Concerned over farmers in Bihar selling maize below the MSP,Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan today said Food Corporation of India (FCI) has been asked to procure the cereal crop at the support price in the state.
Currently, FCI is procuring maize in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Chattisgarh.
“Against the maize MSP of Rs 1,310 per quintal, farmers in Bihar are getting only Rs 900 per quintal. To protect the interest of farmers, we have begun maize procurement via FCI in the state,” Paswan told PTI.
About 16 procurement centres of FCI have been opened for undertaking maize procurement in nine districts — Khagaria, Purnea, Madhepura, Bhagalpur, Chapra, Vaishali, Motihar, Bettiah and Jamui, he added.
Paswan further said that the Bihar government could have initiated maize procurement on its own after knowing their farmers are being deprived of the basic MSP.
“The current policy permits state governments to initiate MSP operations for coarse cereals. Some states are doing this,” he said, while noting that the Bihar government has sought the Centre’s intervention at the fag end of maize procurement season.
Maize MSP stands at Rs 1,310 per quintal for this year. FCI, which normally procures wheat and rice in big way, has purchased about 12.15 lakh tonnes of maize from five states so far in the ongoing 2013-14 season, as per the official data.
Last year, FCI’s total maize buy was only 2,243 tonnes.
Bihar with an annual production of around 27-28 lakh tonnes is the second biggest maize producer in the country. It has 6.85 lakh hectares under this crop.
Maize is not a staple food in Bihar. Quality maize is grown thrice a year during autumn and in rabi and kharif seasons.