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FCI has not fulfilled commitment on paddy procurement in Assam: Minister

Guwahati,  The Assam government on Wednesday said the Food Corporation of India (FCI) has not fulfilled its commitment on paddy procurement in the state, and it will try to ‘force’ the organisation to purchase the crop from farmers.

Participating in a discussion under ‘special mention’ by AGP legislator Ramendra Narayan Kalita and Congress MLA Nandita Das in the Assam Assembly, Agriculture Minister Atul Bora said the state government is working to increase the crop procurement at the minimum support price.

‘The FCI did not respect its commitment regarding procurement. We discussed this with the CM, who is giving importance to the issue. We also talked to the Food and Civil Supplies Department,’ he said.

Earlier, the Food and Civil Supplies Department used to procure paddy from the farmers, and the chief minister said he would provide funds to restart the exercise, Bora informed the House.

‘We will see why the FCI did not fulfil its target in Assam. We will force the organisation to purchase the crop more than what it used to do,’ the minister said.

He also hoped that farmers will get the proper price for their produce from the next year, and all the paddy will be procured by the state and central agencies.

‘With lack of remunerative price for the crop, farmers sell their paddy below the MSP. The new generation of farmers is not interested in paddy cropping. I assure the House that I will take steps in this direction,’ Bora said.

Speaking on the cold storages and godowns, he said the government has launched a scheme to encourage private investment in the construction of these facilities.

‘In the last five years, we distributed 15,100 tractors and 30,000 power tillers among the farmers. We hope that we will be able to transform the agriculture sector in the next five years,’ Bora said.

Of 27 lakh farmers in Assam, only 12,500 were benefited from the FCI’s procurement exercise, and they sold their paddy at Rs 1,000-1,100 per quintal as against the MSP of over Rs 1,800, Kalita said.

Das also stated that the authorities need to regulate the market in Assam to eliminate the middlemen from the system.

Responding to a query by BJP MLA Kaushik Rai, Bora said the northeastern state produced an estimated 82.48 lakh metric tonnes of paddy in 2020-21. PTI