Tuesday, May 18, 2010


Politics of expediency can play havoc in a country like India where people are known to be more politically conscious than their counterparts in many other countries. Growers, be in Punjab or in Andhra Pradesh are supposed to have same rights and expectations and no responsible government can show discrimination dealing with the farmers from different regions. How ever the procurement policy last year was modified to favor the Punjab farmers through dilution of food grain standards, Why there were no protests from other states is not clear but the preeminence of Punjab in contributing to FCI stock might have tempted GOI to appease the farmers there.

"The government agreed to buy rice that contains 28 percent damaged grains from some districts in Punjab, more than the 25 percent broken-rice limit that's a national benchmark, said the official, who didn't want to be identified as the information is not public yet. Growers in Andhra Pradesh will get less than the floor price for grain that's more than 25 percent damaged, he said. The two states together supplied 52 percent of the record 33.68 million tons purchased in the year ended Sept. 30, 2009. The government has bought 26.57 million tons of the grain from farmers since purchases began in October, less than 27.35 million tons procured in the year-ago period, according to the Food Corp. of India. A bigger stockpile may help Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's government avert imports and meet an election promise of ensuring food security for the poor. Singh's Congress party promised to give each poor family 25 kilograms of rice or wheat at 3 rupees a kilogram every month".

Lower quality of rice grains which are consumed predominantly in the South, because of the above quality dilution would be felt during the current year and with the Public Distribution System in disarray, GOI is bound face the heat from the beneficiaries once distribution starts from the storage goddowns of FCI. Imagine the fate of the poor beneficiaries, who had to be content with a rice supply out of which 25% is already bad under normal conditions, being forced to accept still more inferior grain because of the new quality maneuvering by GOI. Added to this is the sharp decline in quality during unsound storage and distribution by FCI, some times after 2-3 years of procurement.

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