Haryana: Paddy farmers sigh with relief as traders, exporters end strike

By Neeraj Mohan

Bringing a huge relief to farmers, the All India Rice Exporters Association (AIREA) on Thursday decided to end its strike and allowed the traders and exporters to procure paddy from the farmers ending the deadlock on the fifth day.

The rice exporters and millers’ association had jointly suspended the procurement operations by boycotting the procurement operations to protest the Union government’s move of maintaining the minimum export price (MEP) for the export of aromatic long-grained basmati rice to US $1,200 per tonne.

“We have taken up the issue with the Union on several occasions, though the final decision on the MEP has not been taken yet. But in the interest of the farmers, the traders have been allowed to procure paddy from them for the domestic market,” said Nathi Ram Gupta, president of AIREA.

He said the decision was taken as the matter regarding the MEP was pending with the group of ministers, adding “We do not know when the ministers will take the decision to revise the MEP, but we have decided to allow traders to start procurement from Friday.”

On October 14, a letter issued by the ministry of consumer affairs, food and public distribution maintains that as per the decision of the competent authority, the present arrangement of MEP of US $1,200 per tonne, for registration- cum -allocation certificate for basmati rice may continue beyond October 15 till further orders.

However, the decision evoked a sharp response from the rice exporters and rice millers association as they slammed the decision and decided to boycott the procurement of all basmati varieties.

Since Haryana is the biggest producer of basmati rice in the country, with around 42 percent share in total exports, the move had come as a jolt to thousands of basmati growers and traders as the harvesting of the aromatic rice is at its peak.

The traders and experts termed the government’s decision impractical as they said that they would not get any buyer in the International market to purchase basmati rice at US $1,200 per tonne, while the average price in the international market was around US $900 per tonne in the past several years.

However, the development has come as a big relief to the Basmati growers who were camping in the mandis to sell the produce in the lack of buyers.

This article has been republished from The Hindustan Times

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