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K’taka maize farmers issue: Food Min seeks PM’s help

Amid demand from the Karnataka government to resolve the maize farmers’ issue, the Food Ministry has sought the PM’s intervention on the issue of whether to allow the state government to buy maize at the support price and further dispose it off in the open market if there is no demand for such coarse cereals in PDS.

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 off the surplus quantities only after meeting the PDS demand.

In view of sharp drop in maize prices below the MSP of Rs 1,300 per quintal in Karnataka, the state government has demanded that since there is no PDS demand for maize in the state, it should be allowed to procure the coarse cereal at the support price to protect farmers and further sell it in the open market via the tender process.

“On this issue, we have sought the intervention from 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 objection to the Karnataka’s demand and 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, Karnataka had procured 7.20 lakh tonnes of maize, of which almost entire quantity had to be disposed off in the open market in the absence of PDS demand, as per the official data.
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