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Godown space crunch may hit procurement of paddy

Special Correspondent

Congress leaders likely to submit memorandum to Prime Minister



HYDERABAD: Shortage of godowns for storing the kharif paddy is turning out to be a major issue, as millers expressed their inability to procure the commodity in the absence of adequate storage space.

Chief Minister K. Rosaiah has convened an all-party meeting on Monday to elicit their views on procurement-related issues and brief them about the Government's preparedness to meet the farmers' rabi requirements.

PM to be briefed

A delegation of Congress leaders is expected to submit a memorandum to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during his visit here on October 19, urging him to take action to protect the interests of consumers, farmers and millers.

The Government is expecting 143 lakh tonnes of paddy this year, including 85 lakh tonnes in kharif, but authorities are worried about storage space.

Bountiful rainfall, adequate water in reservoirs and significant improvement in groundwater levels has resulted in increased sowing area by over five lakh acres. The situation is likely to continue in rabi.

Representatives of two millers' associations, who participated in a meeting convened by APCC president D. Srinivas on Saturday, lamented that the Government was not in a position to provide storage space in spite of their readiness to purchase paddy from farmers. In addition, restrictions on movement of the commodity by road is cited as another impediment for lifting the stock.

Poser on restrictions

“Why should there be restrictions on export of fine rice that is available over and above the domestic requirements”, asked president of Andhra Pradesh Rice Industries Association (APRIA) Amaravadi Laxminarayana.

Lifting the ban on export, permission to move fine rice to open markets in neighbouring States and emptying of Food Corporation of India warehouses in the State, which were storing stocks belonging to the Northern States, were their main demands, he said. They were already agitating by stopping paddy purchases from October 15.

Millers' ultimatum

Leaders of the AP Rice Millers' Association also met and resolved on Saturday not to procure paddy from farmers if their demands, similar to those of the newly-formed APRIA, were not met by the Government in 10 days. The millers and Congress leaders are planning to meet Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar shortly seeking an amicable solution to the issues raised by them.

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