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Nagaon tops paddy procurement

Nagaon, Sept. 4: Nagaon has become the largest paddy-procuring district in Assam for the third consecutive year.

The Food Corporation of India (FCI) has purchased 19,988.942 metric tonnes of paddy through its three procuring centres in the central Assam district against its 20,000 metric tonnes annual target fixed by the government.

A source in Nagaon administration today said the procurement process ended around three weeks back and steps are now being taken to use the authorised mills to separate rice from paddy.

“After the milling process is over, rice would be handed over to the food and civil supplies department for the public distribution system,” the source said.

“For the last two years, we are distributing locally milled rice through PDS. Our annual rice requirement for distribution under four PDS categories is almost 67,400 metric tonnes and if we get 13,400 metric tonnes of rice from the procured paddy, it would fulfil at least 20 per cent of the district’s annual requirement,” said Nagaon deputy commissioner P. Ashok Babu.

The initiative to safeguard farmers from middlemen was introduced by the state government in all 28 districts but according to an FCI source, except Nagaon, none of the districts have shown satisfactory result.

The source said Jorhat came second by procuring 2,000 metric tonnes of paddy from farmers.

Nagaon food and civil supply deputy director Jamatul Islam said steps were being taken to streamline the distribution network. “To achieve the target, we had to overcome problems of mill owners and storage issues, which we managed to solve for the greater interest of farmers,” he added.

He said maximum moisture content in paddy produced here, lack of sufficient technical staff in FCI, storage problem and the failure to establish more procurement centres in the district were some major drawbacks. The district would go for more paddy procurement every year, if these issues could be solved fully.

With 620,073 metric tonnes of paddy production in the 2011-12 fiscal on 237,386 hectares of land, Nagaon is known as the green belt of Assam.

“Because of the National Food Security Mission, rice production has doubled in Nagaon. In 2007-08, our farmers produced 314,134 metric tonnes of paddy and now it has touched 620,073 metric tonnes,” said Nagaon agriculture district officer Abdul Baser Khan.