PASSCO fails to attract paddy growers

Farmers getting better rates in open market

Post Source: The News – By Aftab Maken – Saturday, November 21, 2009

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Agriculture Storage and Supplies Corporation — the state-run procuring agency for commodities — has failed to attract the farmers to its designated leased mills.

In the six designated zones for Basmati paddy in Punjab, PASSCO has so far procured only 2,325 tons of paddy from farmers against intended procurement of 0.6 million tons. In Sindh and Balochistan, PASSCO did not procure a single grain of Irri-6 in the first ten days of procurement campaign, reveals a daily paddy procurement report of the Corporation and available with The News.

Agriculture Development Commissioner Dr Qadir Bux Baloch claims, “The farmers are getting better price from the private sector against the public procurement centres through PASSCO. The market price of paddy is above the intervention price of the federal government.”

“There is no need of procurement by PASSCO as the farmers are getting higher price of their produce from the private sector,” he added when this correspondent asked about zero procurement of Irri-6 in Sindh and Balochistan even after a month of harvesting.

PASSCO has contracted 53 rice mills on lease in Punjab, five in Sindh and seven in Balochistan for the procurement of basmati and Irri-6. The Corporation did not make any arrangement for the procurement of Irri-6 variety in southern Punjab and all the 53 rice mills are in the Basmati growing areas of six designated zones of central Punjab.

All the five rice mills that will procure Irri-6 in Sindh are from Shahdadkot while seven rice mills in Balochistan are located in Usta Muhammad, Dera Murad Jamali and Dera Allah Yar.The total procurement of paddy in Mandi Bahauddin is 145 tons at the nine leased rice mills, the procurement report added.

Mandi Bahauddin is the home district of Federal Food Minister, Nazar Muhammad Gondal, Acting PASSCO MD, Tauqir Ahmed Faiq, who is also Additional Secretary MinFA and PASSCO GM paddy.

“This slow pace of procurement is mainly because of stringent condition applied by the staffers of PASSCO along with district administration at the designated rice mills,” one of the basmati growers told this correspondent by telephone.

“The federal cabinet, which met the other day with Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani in the chair, constituted a committee on paddy procurement but gave a clear message to the paddy farmers that the government has other serious issues to handle and your’s is a secondary issue for the federal government,” the same farmer lamented. The Punjab government too is totally indifferent to the issues and problems of basmati growers, he concluded.

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