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Punjab CM reviews prospects of Maize and Basmati in state

June 23, 2015 03:45 PM

CHANDIGARH: In a paradigm shift from the cultivation of Paddy to Maize and Basmati under the State government’s ambitious programme of crop diversification, the Punjab Chief Minister Mr. Parkash Singh Badal today held detailed parleys with the experts of Punjab Agriculture University, State Agriculture Department and the Progressive Farmers to chalk out a time bound action programme aimed at assured marketing, supply of high yield seeds and cost effective farm machinery for these alternate crops.
Presiding over separate meetings of State Maize and Basmati Development Boards here at Punjab Bhawan this morning, Mr. Badal constituted a sub-group comprising Agriculture Minister, Additional Chief Secretary Development, Vice-Chancellor, PAU and three representatives amongst progressive farmers to look into all aspects of quality seed supply, marketing, indigenous fabrication of small & portable dryers by local vendors besides the creation of price stabilization fund to ensure better and remunerative prices to the maize growers.
The Chief Minister said that he has already taken up the matter with the Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi to ensure procurement of Maize at Minimum Support Price (MSP) through the GoI’s Agency- National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India, for which the State government had already designated Punjab Agro as its premier agency for the procurement of maize on the prevailing MSP as announced by Centre. Likewise, he also asked the Additional Chief Secretary Development to coordinate with the key players of maize processing units especially those who were producing cattle feed for direct tie up with the maize growers to ensure better prices to them.
The Chief Minister further asked the Additional Secretary Development to tie up with the local manufacturers for the indigenous fabrication of small & portable dryers for drying up maize so as to enable the maize growers to fetch maximum price of their yield. He said that the existing dryers installed by the Punjab Mandi Board were of huge capacity and were not economically viable for the small and marginal farmers, thus the Chief Minister emphasized that the small dryers could be made available to the farmers at the affordable prices by giving subsidy on them by the state government.
During the meeting of Basmati Development Board, the Chief Minister appealed to the Basmati growers not to sow 1509 variety of Basmati before July 15 in any case because the pre-mature sowing of this variety hampered the yield both in terms of quality as well as quantity. He directed the VC, PAU and Director Agriculture to launch a vigorous campaign for bringing awareness amongst the farmers to shun the practice of early sowing of 1509 variety through inserting advertisements in the newspapers besides organizing special camps to educate the farmers on this aspect.
Meanwhile, the Principal Secretary to Chief Minister who met a delegation of State Rice Millers and exporters at Amritsar last week, apprised Mr. Badal about their concerns about the probable fall in the export volumes of Basmati from the state during the current Kharif marketing season in wake of stringent parameters imposed by Iran, the major importer of Basmati from India. He also suggested the Chief Minister that in order to safeguard the interest of Basmati growers, the state government should pursue the matter regarding GI (Geographical Indications) related to Basmati Rice in Punjab with the GoI’s Registry- an Agency entrusted with the task of demarcation of GI areas as the other Basmati producing states like Haryana, Delhi, Uttrakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Western Uttar Pradesh and parts of Jammu and Kashmir were taking up this matter with the appointed Registry on their own. It may be recalled that a case related to GI issue of Basmati was already pending in the Supreme Court and the Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR) was already taking up this issue with the Registry for its early resolution. He also brought into the notice of Chief Minister that the millers were facing serious financial crisis and demanded reduction in bank interest on the lines of bailout package as already extended by the GoI to the Sugar Industry.
The Chief Minister also directed the Secretary Mandi Board to ensure cleanliness and hygienic conditions in all the mandis across the state so that the produce of the farmers brought here with lot of sweat and toil could fetch them maximum price on one hand and to conform to the prescribed safety food standards for human consumption on the other. He said the cleanliness factor in the mandis would also boost the export potential of the basmati and other crops in the state.
Prominent amongst others who were present in the meeting included Agriculture Minister Jathedar Tota Singh, Chief Parliamentary Secretary Mr. G.S. Babehali, Additional Chief Secretary Development Board Mr. Suresh Kumar, Financial Commissioner Animal Husbandry Mr. G. Vajralingam, Principal Secretary to Chief Minister Mr. S.K. Sandhu, VC PAU Dr. B.S. Dhillon, MD Markfed Mr. Gurkirat Kirpal Singh, MD Punjab Agro Mr. K.S. Pannu and Director Agriculture Mr. Mangal Singh Sandhu.

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