Decision comes too late for farmers, state yet to get details of new procurement norms from Centre
Bhubaneswar: The Centre has agreed to relax fair average quality (FAQ) norms for the procurement of paddy in 15 districts of the state where the quality of paddy had deteriorated due to unseasonal rain during last kharif.
Union Minister for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Ram Vilas Paswan informed the decision of the Centre in a letter to Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan. However, the Centre is yet to inform the state government which is procuring paddy from farmers about the decision.
“The department has decided to relax FAQ norms for procuring paddy in 15 districts of Orissa to help farmers affected by the unexpected unseasonal rain in November 2017,” Paswan said in his letter. However, he has not named the 15 districts, where the norms will be relaxed. The Centre relaxed procurement norms very late. Kharif paddy procurement started in November and will continue till April. As the Centre decided to ease norms recently it will take at least another 10 to 15 days to communicate this to the state officially.
Though the state had demanded this in December, the Centre had not paid heed to it. As a result many farmers, whose paddy crop was affected by the unseasonal rain, will not benefit, sources said. The Centre relaxed the norms after a demand from the state government and organisations representing farmers.
Last December, state Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare Minister Surya Narayan Patro had written a letter to Paswan regarding this. Patro had requested Paswan to relax quality norms for the procurement of non-fair average quality (non-FAQ) rice in the 19 districts, where the paddy crop had been damaged by unseasonal rain.
The unseasonal rain had caused extensive damage to standing and harvested crops stacked in fields.
As per existing norms, the government can purchase paddy, which was damaged, discoloured, sprouted or weevilled by up to 5 per cent of total quantity. Paddy damaged over 5 per cent is rejected. The Special Relief Commissioner’s (SRC) report says the unseasonal rain had affected around five lakh hectares of paddy in 19 districts.