AP rice causes hearts to sink in Raichur

The State government, which has assured support price, has not bothered so far to open a single window centre to buy paddy. Paradoxically, the neighbouring Andhra Pradesh government, in order to rescue its farmers, has made an offer to the government of Karnataka to supply rice for the Akshara Dasoha scheme.

The State government, mired in controversies and corruption charges, has apparently certain lessons to learn from the AP government in tackling the crisis.

As soon as the price of rice crashed in AP, the government announced support price and opened 10 purchase centres in different places. A senior officer was deployed in each district to supervise the process of procurement. Arrangements were made on the premises of schools and colleges to store the produce purchased from the farmers.

Without wasting much time, the AP government purchased 5.41 lakh tonnes of paddy and immediately pursuaded other States to purchase the rice. In yet another proactive move, it wrote to the Karnataka Government, requesting the latter to purchase rice from its farmers for its Akshara Dasoha scheme.

It his letter, Sridhar Babu, AP minister for Food and Civil Supplies, said Karnataka which purchased rice from far-off Punjab for its Akshara Dasoha scheme could instead buy the rice from AP, to save on transportation cost. Back in Karnataka, the State government has neither initiated the procurement process nor has approved proposals by the district administration to open purchase centres, unnerving the State farmers.

In the last rabi crop, paddy was grown on 20 lakh acres across the State. In Raichur alone, 50 lakh quintals were harvested on 72,000 hactares. This apart, 50 lakh quintals from last year’s procurement, are rotting in the godowns.

Utter despair

At a meeting with Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa last Saturday, district in-charge minister B Sriramulu insisted that the government take action immediately as the price crash pushed the farmers of flood-hit North Karnataka into despair.

The present price for a 75-kg bag of rice in the market is Rs 600-700, while the farmers want the Government to fix a minimum price of Rs 1,500.

Former legislator N S Bosaraj said the State government lacks foresight that the Andhra Pradesh had in addressing the issue. Though pressure was mounted months ago on the State government to initiate the procurement process, nothing was done, he added.
Karnataka State Raita Sangha State unit vice-president Chamarasa Malipatil said:

“Instead of expecting the Centre to announce support price, the State should be proactive in protecting the interests of the farmers and penetrate market at the earliest. The Rs 1,000-crore revolving funds reserved for the farmers’ welfare could be utilised.”  

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