BHUBANESWAR: With the Food Corporation of India (FCI) refusing to accept certain local varieties of paddy not conforming to the fair average quality (FAQ), the Odisha State Civil Supplies Corporation (OSCSC) has requested the state government to approach the Centre for relaxation FAQ norm to determine grades of paddy before procurement.
Farmers of the State’s coastal districts prefer to grow local varieties of paddy like Kulia, Boro and Badala in low land which is often marooned by rain and floodwater.
These local varieties of paddy mostly cultivated by small and marginal farmers have water resistance capacity and the resultant rice are reddish in colour even after adequate polishing.
These traditional varieties of paddy are cultivated in Cuttack, Jagatsingpur, Jajpur, Nayagarh, Kendrapada and other coastal districts of the State.As per the food and procurement policy, the state government has been procuring these varieties of paddy under the support price mechanism to protect the interest of farmers.
A separate book of accounts is maintained for procurement of these discoloured varieties following objection from FCI.
Being the major procuring agency, the State-run Corporation has requested the Government to take up the issue with the Ministry of Consumer Affairs and Food and Public Distribution to allow relaxation of FAQ norms from the existing five per cent to six per cent for the 2019-20 kharif marketing season (KMS).
“The Union government may be requested to allow six per cent under-damaged, discoloured, sprouted and weevilled grains as against the specification limit of five per cent in the uniform specification of paddy for 2019-20 KMS,” said OSCSC Managing Director SK Samal in a letter to Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare department.
A further relaxation from three per cent to four per cent for red and discoloured grains (raw rice) may be allowed to extend the minimum support price to the farmers, the letter said.
In the last KMS, the Centre had relaxed the FAQ norms for paddy procurement in 15 districts of the State, which were affected by unseasonal rains.