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Direct-buy camps for paddy districts

Burdwan, Nov. 26: The government has decided to set up 44 permanent camps across the state to purchase paddy directly from farmers and avoid middlemen, food minister Jyotipriya Mullick said today.

“Last year, farmers faced difficulties because there was no permanent paddy procurement camps in any of the districts. Many a time, they had to return with their produce because the camps used to function between October and the first week of January. Now, the farmers can sell their produce trough the year,” Mullick said at a meeting with Burdwan district officials.

The minister said that of the 44 camps, 30 will come up in Burdwan, said to be the rice bowl of India. “Last year, the government purchased 18 lakh metric tonnes of paddy, but this year we have decided to procure 20 lakh metric tonnes,” he said.

Each camp will have representatives from two state-owned co-operatives (Benfed and Confed), district administration, farmers’ body, and the food department.

Farmers at the meeting were learnt to have complained to the minister that they were “forced to sell their paddy to middlemen because of absence of such camps”.

A district official said there were 13 farmer suicides last year.

Mullick also announced that 30 godowns would be set up in the districts to store rice. “FCI-run godowns are too often reluctant to store the rice being procured from mill owners. So, we want to have our own godowns,” he said.