The ruling BJD in Odisha has said that if the Centre does not accept the demand to lift surplus parboiled rice within seven days, “farmers will descend on the streets” and the “BJD will support and stand by the farmers”.
BJD leaders have alleged that by not lifting surplus rice, the Centre has held back the release of about Rs 6,040 crore in subsidy, placing the state under severe financial burden.
Ranendra Swain, Odisha Minister for Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare, Tuesday wrote to Union minister Piyush Goyal, saying that limiting procurement of parboiled rice will have “far reaching adverse consequences for the state”. “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 season to the extent of 50 percent of the last year FCI delivery will have far reaching adverse consequences for the state.”
The Food Corporation of India recently informed the state government that it will not be able to accept surplus parboiled rice during the rabi season as “there is a possibility of a glut of 185 lakh tonne parboiled rice stock across the country”, “choking its movement or disposal”.
“Due to estimated bumper procurement, there is a possibility of glut of 185 lakh tonne parboiled rice stock across the country, thereby, choking its movement/disposal for years…In view of the above, it is required to give maximum delivery of raw rice to the extent of 50 per cent of the original estimates. It is also intimated that FCI will not be in a position to accept any surplus parboiled rice during rabi season 2020-21,” Satyaprakash Panda, AGM (Procurement) of the FCI, wrote to Vir Vikram Yadav, Secretary in the Odisha Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare department.
BJD leaders have threatened a statewide agitation. “Farmers will descend on the streets, if the demand for lifting 31 lakh tonne paddy of mostly parboiled rice for 2020-21 is not accepted by the Centre/FCI within a week. The BJD will support and stand by the farmers. We hope better sense prevails in the BJP and instead of shedding crocodile tears here, the party raises its voice against this injustice meted out to Odisha farmers,” said Rohit Pujari, deputy chief whip of the party.
However, the BJP hit out at the state government saying that the procurement of parboiled rice, unlike white rice, is capped and that the state government should procure it more as there is higher consumption within the state. “A farmer usually sells paddy, but not rice. The parboiled rice gives 7 per cent more production than white rice. Parboiled rice is consumed only in Odisha and some parts of northern India… since the parboiled rice is consumed more within the state, the procurement by the state should be more,” BJP state general secretary Lekhashree Samantsinghar said.