In a letter to Union Consumer Affairs and Food and Public Distribution Minister Piyush Goyal, Swain said, “As you are aware of the fact that in the post-Covid-19 economic revival agricultural sector is playing an important role in the country. In order to come out of economic distress the sector needs full support of the Government”.
In case of Odisha, paddy procurement is one of the important means which ensures that lakhs of farmers get MSP for their paddy sold to Government, direct to their accounts through online transfer.
Even in such unprecedented situation arising out of the pandemic, Government of Odisha has put in place a transparent system of paddy procurement and has extended the outreach of MSP procurement to remote, far-flung and inaccessible areas of the state, he said.
The Minister pointed out that currently, procurement of paddy (Kharif crop) is in full swing and the rate of procurement is 22 percent higher compared to corresponding period in the previous season. There is an increase in quantum of procurement and also growth in the number of farmers selling paddy to the Government. This means more farmers have benefitted from MSP payment, he added.
It will contribute to economic growth in the agriculture sector, which employs maximum number of people compared to other sectors.
In the above scenario the State is, however, saddled with two important problems which needs your kind intervention. Odisha State Civil Supplies Corporation (OSCSC), the agency which performs paddy procurement has so far borrowed a staggering sum of Rs 15,000 crore to run the programme by way of upfront investment, Swain mentioned.
The high volume of bank loan is mainly due to non release of subsidy by Department of Food and Public Distribution. The OSCSC has pending subsidy claims towards provisional and advance subsidy totaling Rs. 6039 crore.
Since all resources including sanctioned limit of bank finances has been exhausted by OSCSC further paddy procurement from farmers may be severely affected. The pending subsidy, therefore, may be released urgently, he urged the Union Minister.
The second problem is intimation from Food Corporation of India (FCI) to limit the delivery of surplus parboiled rice of the state to the extent of 50 percent of last year FCI delivery and not to accept any surplus in the form of parboiled rice during Rabi season of the current KMS 202021.
Mentioning that Odisha has become a DCP State in KMS 2003-04, taking up the responsibility of procuring paddy direct from farmers, Swain said, “ I am happy to share that due to consistent efforts of the Government in extending the outreach of MSP programme Odisha has become the highest contributor of foodgrains to the Central Pool. Odisha is primarily a parboiled consuming State. Raw nce is consumed only in six districts. Most of the rice mills In the State are parboiled mills”.
Therefore, asking the state to deliver surplus rice in the form of raw rice in Rabi and to limit procurement of parboiled rice in the Kharif to the extent of 50 percent of last year FCI delivery will have far reaching adverse consequences for the State.
Odisha’s own consumption under PDS and other welfare schemes currently comes to around 24 lakh MT of rice. The estimated surplus that needs to be evacuated by FCI from the state in the current KMS would be in the range of 30 lakh MT, he added.