BHUBANESWAR: The State Government on Tuesday rejected the Central Government’s offer to relax the quality norms for procurement of paddy at reduced support price. Though the Centre has relaxed the fair average quality (FAQ) specifications for procurement of paddy under the minimum support price mechanism in 15 districts affected by unseasonal rains, it has reduced the MSP for discoloured paddy from Rs 1,550 per quintal to Rs 1,410 per quintal.
“This is not acceptable to the State as it would cause serious loss to the farmers. I have requested the Chief Minister to seek the intervention of the Prime Minister for the benefit of the farmers,” Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare Minister SN Patro said.
Patro said the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution has relaxed the colour fading norm from the existing 5 per cent to 11 per cent but made no change in the moisture content of the paddy.
As per the FAQ norms, procurement of paddy which was damaged, discoloured, sprouted or weevilled by upto 5 per cent of the total quantity is acceptable under MSP. Since the paddy harvested in the 15 districts hit by unseasonal rains has high moisture content, the Centre needs to relax the norm.
Patro said that the Centre had relaxed the FAQ norms for three districts in 2010 without changing the MSP. Reduction of `140 per quintal of paddy would adversely impact the farmers when the cost of production is much higher than the support price given by the Centre.
Earlier, Patro and Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan had written separately to Union Minister for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Ram Vilash Paswan requesting relaxation of FAQ norms of paddy affected by unseasonal rains.
Meanwhile, the State Government has procured about 72 per cent of the Kharif paddy from the major paddy producing districts as against the annual target of 54 lakh tonnes. While paddy procurement in western Odisha districts is almost over, the procurement operation is in full swing in coastal districts.