Guwahati: Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Wednesday said the Food Corporation of India (FCI) and other agencies have been instructed to procure 10 lakh MT of paddy from the state during the 2021-22 crop year.

Replying to a set of questions by the opposition MLAs during Question Hour in the assembly, Sarma said orders have been issued to FCI, NAFED, NACOF, AFCSCL, NCCF, and ASAMB to procure 10 lakh MT paddy from farmers across the state.

“The paddy will be procured at the MSP of Rs 1,940 per quintal. The payment will be made, as per a nationwide system, directly to the account of the farmers thereby eliminating middlemen. It will take 10-15 days from the date of procurement,” he added.

Sarma urged all MLAs to take the initiative to set up procurement centres, rice mills, and warehouses in their constituencies to facilitate procurement and offered government support in this direction.

“There is a condition that FCI procures paddy from only those farmers who have land papers in their name. This clause will be exempted this year, but it will be enforced from next year. Rice mills and warehouses are a must in every constituency, so the MLAs should concentrate on it,” he added.

To a question by CPI(M) MLA Manoranjan Talukdar, Agriculture Minister Atul Bora said the FCI is at present preparing paddy procurement centres and the government will provide 1,000 vehicles to farmers, on subsidy, to carry their produce to the centres.

He said the state produced 81.22 lakh MT paddy during 2019-20 and the reason for low procurement from Assam is the moisture content in foodgrain.

Bora said orders have been issued to procure 7 lakh MT of the first crop from December 1 to June 30 next year and 3 lakh MT of the second crop from July to September in 2022 under the Kharif Marketing Season (KMS).

Independent MLA Akhil Gogoi wondered if the procurement target of 10 lakh MT will be fulfilled as the exercise has not yet started while almost one month has passed.

BPF MLA Durga Das Boro said middlemen are siphoning off up to 70 per cent of the payment made to farmers, who are not familiar with the procurement process.

Replying to a separate query by another BPF member Charan Boro, Bora said the paddy procurement in 2020-21 was 2.12 lakh MT, down from 3.15 lakh MT in the previous year. It was 1.51 lakh MT in 2018-19.

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