PM's intervention sought in maize farmers' issue

The Food Ministry has sought the prime minister’s intervention to solve the Karnataka maize farmer’s issue after the prices for the cereal dropped well below the prescribed minimum support price (MSP).

The Karnataka government has requested permission to buy the cereal at the prescribed MSP of Rs 1,300 per quintal, to protect farmers and further sell it in the open market via the tender process.

As per the revised norms, the state governments are permitted to procure coarse cereals like maize at the minimum support price (MSP) only for distribution in the Public Distribution System (PDS). They are allowed to dispose of the surplus quantities only after meeting the PDS demand.

"On this issue, we have sought the intervention of the prime minister. The Food Department has asked the Karnataka government to procure maize only if it can be distributed through PDS,” a senior government official said.

It is believed that the Finance Ministry has raised objections to the State’s demand and has asked the Union Food Ministry to apply financial prudence, sources said.
Last month, Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah had met Paswan urging him to take positive steps in the interest of maize farmers.

To protect farmers, the chief minister had sought permission to buy maize at MSP in the current season despite there being no PDS demand for it in the State due to food preferences towards rice and wheat.

Last year, the State had procured 7.20 lakh tonnes of maize and almost the entire quantity had to be disposed of in the open market in the absence of the PDS demand, according to official data.

It looks like there are few takers for maize under the PDS across the country as only 92,670 tonnes of maize was supplied through ration shops out of the total procurement of over 12 lakh tonnes last year.

Coarse cereals like maize are supplied at Rs 1/ kg under the PDS under the new food law.

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