Government to purchase paddy directly from farmers

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Bangalore: The State government has decided not to depend much on the levy policy for rice procurement and instead buy paddy directly from the farmers for supplying rice under the public distribution system.

Speaking to reporters here on Wednesday, Food and Civil Supplies minister Dinesh Gundu Rao said that procuring paddy directly and getting it milled from rice millers will not only help farmers, but also save transportation cost for the department. However, it will be made mandatory for millers to mill certain quantity of paddy in a year under the PDS, he added.

Permission sought

The government, therefore, has sought the Centre’s permission to allow it to amend the Rice Milling Industry Regulation and Licensing rules, 1959. If permitted, the government will have the power to fix the levy target every year, based on the demand and also make millers mill paddy for the PDS, the minister said.

Under the current levy policy, the levy target is fixed by the Centre (33 per cent). But, rice millers are finding it difficult to comply with the policy mandate. Most of the times, the millers supply less than the stipulated target to the State government. Hence, the government has sought to amend the policy, sources said.

Asked whether the government is planning to do away with the levy policy, the minister said: “It is not a good policy. It might have worked in the past. But it is not relevant now.”

Budget canteen

When asked about the proposal to start budget canteens, the minister said that the department was working on it. “The department is yet to decide whether to run the canteens on its own or outsource it. Besides, talks are still going on with non-governmental organisations like Iskcon in this regard.”

Budget canteens, being planned on the lines of Amma canteens of the Tamil Nadu government, envisage providing lunch to the needy at an affordable price. The plan is to start the canteens on a pilot basis either in Bangalore or Mysore, the minister said.

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