‘We have been asked to sell the costly rice bags or pay from our pockets’
ANANTNAG: Filed employees of agriculture department have alleged that they have been told to sell stocks of fragrant rice, Mushki Budij, or pay from their pockets in case of failure.
The development comes after Agro Industries Development Corporation (AIDC) failed to sell the stocks of the costly rice in the market, and returned the stocks to agriculture department.
Sources in the department said that the officials have now assigned the job of selling the rice to its field employees whose nature of job was totally different.
“The irony is that even the class IV employees have been provided 10 to 30 kg of rice for marketing. These employees have been clearly asked if they fail to sell the rice they will have to pay the cost from their own pockets,” a source in the department told Kashmir Readers.
An employee posted in Kokernag area said that he has been given 20 kg of rice for selling.
“The authorities have issued a clear cut diktat to us that we have to pay the cost of the rice no matter what. How can we force any one to buy this costly rice. Some employees can afford to taste it at home but what about the class IV employees who have large families to feed,” the employee said.
In an effort to revive the cultivation of priced aromatic variety of rice, the agriculture department distributed seeds of Mushki Budij and fertilizers to farmers of Sagam village of Kokernag last year free of cost. Around 400 farmers of the village had produced over 6000 quintals of rice after which the village was declared as a model village of Mushq Budji. Later, AIDC, which acts as the marketing wing of the department, took up the job of marketing the rice for which the government released one crore rupees. The department procured around 1400 quintals of rice at the cost of Rs 8000/quintal and setup sale counters at different places where the rice was put on sale on subsidised rates.
In the open market Mushki Budij is sold at prices ranging upto Rs 18,000.
However, after failing to market the rice, even at subsidized rates, the AIDC returned the stocks to agriculture department.
Questioning the directive of the higher ups, an official of the department said that the authorities spent huge amount of money on the revival of Mushki Budij variety and were now trying to hide their marketing failure.
“Chief Minister personally has released one crore rupees for the marketing of the rice. She should take a serious note of the failure of AIDC who failed to do its marketing despite spending huge amount of money on it,” the official said.
Chief Agriculture Officer, Anantnag , Ajaz Ahmed Raina denied that employees were asked to buy the rice but admitted that they have been assigned the job of marketing.
“If any of the employees wants to taste the fragrant rice it is his choice but we are not forcing any one to buy it. They have been asked to go for the marketing,” Raina said.
“There are some employees who have become habitual of sitting idle and they might have complained about it because we have asked them to take responsibility of rice bags and go to the people including hotels, restaurants and other places for its marketing.”
Raina added that the department was making all efforts to revive Mushq Budji.
“We are going to set up sale stalls at tourist and other public places for its marketing. Besides we will try its cultivation in other areas in future,” he said.