Kerala to oppose Centre`s new foodgrain procurement policy
Thiruvananthapuram: UDF government will oppose the reported foodgrain policy of the NDA government that
bars states from paying bonus amount for procurement than the minimum support price fixed by the Centre if it adversely affects farmers, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy told the Assembly today.
He was replying to a notice seeking leave for adjournment motion on the serious crisis paddy growers in the state would have to face due to the new foodgrain procurement policy of the Centre.
However, Chandy said there were only media reports in this regard, and Centre has not taken any such decision. The budget presented yesterday also did not mention anything on this, he said.
Quoting media reports, Chandy said the new policy suggests that states should not procure foodgrains by paying more than the MSP fixed by the Centre.
Stating that the new policy would adversely affect paddy cultivators, he said the state now was paying Rs.19 per kg for paddy, whereas the MSP was only Rs.13.10, which means state has to dole out a subsidy of Rs.5.90 per kg to farmers.
Even this was not enough for paddy cultivators considering the cost of cultivation and other allied expenses, he said adding, government was of the view that paddy farmers should get atleast Rs.20 per kg of paddy.
"So,if the new policy adversely affects the farmers, state will oppose it...But, if the Centre fixes a reasonable MSP that would benefit farmers, state will welcome it," he said.
Since agriculture is a state subject, imposition of restrictions was a clear infringement on state`s rights, Chandy added.
In this regard, he said the state procured a total 5.5 lakh MT of paddy during the current season and paid Rs.700 crore to paddy growers. The state subsidy component would come to around Rs 312 crore.
Seeking leave for the motion, A K Saseetharan (NCP) said it was not a minor issue that has to be brushed away saying there were only media reports in this regard. He brought to the notice of the House discussions held in this regard at a recent meeting of Food Ministers at Delhi.
Farmers, especially paddy growers in the state, would be pushed to more difficulty with Centre imposing restrictions on procurement price fixing, he said.
After Chandy`s reply, Speaker G Karthikeyan disallowed leave for the motion.
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