Chandigarh: SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal on Sunday asked the Centre to review ban on the export of broken rice and also remove duty imposed on the export of non-basmati rice, saying the move will deprive farmers of reaping the benefits of high global prices of food grains.
In a statement here, Badal said the export ban as well as 20 per cent duty on the export of non-basmati rice were anti-farmer steps and should be addressed immediately.
The Centre recently imposed 20 per cent export duty on non-basmati rice and also banned the export of broken rice with an aim to increase domestic availability.
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) chief said earlier farmers had been denied the benefits of an increase in wheat prices globally with the central government banning wheat export in May.
Farmers then desperately needed higher prices to offset the loss in yield because of the high presence of shrivelled grain due to early onset of heat wave. Now, when farmers stand a chance of reaping the benefits of high international rice prices, the government has banned export of broken rice and imposed exorbitant duty.
This time too farmers face a decrease in paddy yield due to high prevalence of southern black-streaked dwarf virus, said Badal.
Asserting that the Centre should not penalize farmers, Badal said instead of putting restrictions on exports, the government should hike minimum support price (MSP) of paddy which would lead to increased government purchase and aid the food security needs of the country.
He also asserted that contrary to projections, rice prices only accounted for a two per cent of rise in the consumer price index last month and its prices should not be decreased forcibly.
Badal also said a deliberate attempt to reduce paddy prices in the open market in the country was also against the Centre’s resolve to double farm income by next year.
Noting that a fall in demand of rice would have a negative spiral impact on the entire economy, Badal said farmers and farm labourers would be the worst sufferers even though the entire economy would bear the effect of negative growth in the agriculture sector.
The Firozpur MP said in the case of Punjab, the agriculture sector was already in a state of crisis with farmers suffering losses due to low yield of paddy even as rains damaged both the paddy and cotton crops in the region. —Agencies
Dwarfing virus in paddy is also set to reduce its yield by 15 to 20 per cent, he said.
In such a situation, farmers should be compensated and be allowed to take advantage of favourable prices, said Badal.