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State Cooperative Bank to fund pepper procurement

By Our Special Correspondent

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, DEC. 24. The State Cooperative Bank will provide the funds required by Marketfed to carry out the Government's programme to procure pepper from farmers at a rate of Rs. 75 a kg.

The programme had failed to take off despite the Government's decision to launch it weeks ago, since Marketfed, which was identified as the procurement agency, was pressed for funds.

The Chief Minister, Oommen Chandy, today called a meeting of top officials to sort out the issue. The meeting, which was also attended by the Agriculture Minister, K. R. Gouri, decided to commence the procurement operations without further delay.

"The funds required by Marketfed will be given by the State Cooperative Bank. Only farmers with landholdings of up to two hectares will be given the benefit of the programme," an official press release said.

The Agriculture Department will immediately start issuing certificates to such farmers indicating their eligibility for getting their pepper procured by Marketfed. To carry out the programme, Marketfed will be allowed to involve agencies outside the network of societies affiliated to it.

Agencies

Such agencies are to be identified by a four-member committee at the district level. This committee will have the district collector as chairperson and the joint registrar of cooperative societies, the principal agriculture officer and a representative of Marketfed as members.

The procured pepper will not be released into the market for three months. The Government will provide to Marketfed and other agencies implementing the programme an assistance of Re. 1 for each kg of pepper procured by them. This is to meet their handling expenses, the press release said.

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