Tripura buys paddy after FCI snub
The Tripura government on Monday started procuring 10,000 metric tonnes of paddy at minimum support price (MSP) from the farmers of the state, after the Food Corporation of India (FCI) declined to buy the crop this year.
State food and civil supplies minister Manoj Kanti Deb said, “Last year, we procured paddy from the state’s farmers with FCI’s support. This year, too, we tried to convince them to buy paddy from our state but they refused to do so. So, we have decided to procure 10,000 MT paddy at Rs 1,750 per quintal on our own.”
Speaking to The Telegraph, joint director of food and civil supplies Manik Lal Baidya said procurement started from Monday at Sabroom in South Tripura district, Sonamura in Sipahijala district, Teliamura in Khowai district and Udaipur in Gomati district. The rest of the state would be covered in a phased manner.
Agriculture department reports say Tripura needs 3 lakh MT of rice every year according to the public distribution system (PDS) requirement. It produces 12 lakh MT paddy annually, including Boro, Aman and Aush crops.
Tripura earlier set a 10-year target for food self-sufficiency in 2002-03. The target was not achieved at the time of evaluation in 2012-13. Barely 25,000 MT meat, 12.5 crore eggs and 1.05 MT milk was produced annually at the time. Later, the erstwhile Left Front government set a new target for self-sufficiency in food production by 2020.
Shortly after the BJP-led government took charge in March last year, chief minister Biplab Kumar Deb stressed on the importance of achieving self-sufficiency in food production but despite repeated attempts, the government has failed to cut down on its import dependency.
The state government still spends Rs 600 crore every year for importing paddy from other states like Punjab and Haryana for PDS since most of the paddy here can’t be produced because of lack of milling and procurement facilities.
“There are only two rice mills in Tripura, which can’t process all the paddy produced here and the government can’t accept unhusked rice. If seven to eight new rice mills are set up here, they can process the entire paddy and we can procure them directly from here,” food and civil supplies minister Deb said.
Former horticulture director Baharul Islam Majumder said public procurement is not working out so far since milling charge is very high in Tripura.
Baharul is credited with the introduction of the system of rice intensification in the state in 2002 for augmenting production of rice, which significantly increased paddy production in the state.