CM calls for crackdown on middlemen to iron out paddy procurement woes
Kolkata: Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has instructed her concerned officials to ensure a crackdown on middlemen, who have caused problems regarding paddy procurement from farmers.
"We want to procure paddy directly from the farmers and at the same time, increase the procurement target. This year, we have set a target of procuring 58 lakh metric tonnes of paddy. Sometimes, people get involved in the process of procuring paddy directly from farmers, which creates trouble for the entire process. We would not allow the involvement of any other person other than the farmers," Banerjee told reporters at Nabanna on Wednesday.
A senior official who attended the meeting said that the Chief Minister has directed the administration to be more vigilant and take all possible measures to eliminate the involvement of middlemen.
Banerjee chaired a meeting at the state Secretariat with concerned ministers and senior officials of Food & Supplies, Agriculture, Agriculture Marketing and a few other departments, to take stock of the situation and clear the bottlenecks in the process. District Magistrates and Police Superintendents of a number of districts also attended the meeting.
She also expressed her displeasure over the failure to crackdown on the middlemen, thereby resulting in lesser procurement than desired.
"We want farmers to sell the stock themselves and in return, hand over the money to them directly. They were earlier handed over payment by RTGS to their bank accounts, but now we have decided to hand over cheques immediately after they sell the paddy. This will make the process or procurement hassle-free. We are setting up an additional 2,000 centres beside the existing kisan mandis, where farmers can come to sell their stocks," the Chief Minister said.
According to a source, Banerjee has asked the state agencies to procure the entire stock of paddy that a farmer brings to sell. No farmer can be turned down and they cannot be deprived of the minimum support price for paddy
procurement, she is learnt to have directed the officials. A minimum support price of Rs 1,750 has to be paid to the farmers.
The Chief Minister reiterated: "Farmer issues, unemployment and secularism are going to be the key issues in the run-up to the Lok Sabha polls. Farmers in this state are smiling. We have already waived khajna (land rent) for farmers and have done away with mutation fees for registering agricultural land."