Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann on Friday said that the restrictions on exports of basmati rice imposed by the Union government is against the interests of the farmers and demanded its immediate rollback.
Addressing a gathering during "Kisan Mela" organised here at the Punjab Agricultural University, the chief minister lamented that "this illogical decision will do considerable damage to the economic situation of the farmers as well as the traders".
The Union government has fixed Minimum Export Price of basmati at USD 1,200 per tonne "which adversely hit the domestic price of the crop".
Mann, according to an official statement, said that the Union government must remove all these restrictions to safeguard the interests of the farmers from the state.
The chief minister said that the hard working and resilient farmers of the state are already at a crossroads due to the ever escalating cost of the farm inputs and "low MSP".
He said that the state produces maximum basmati rice in the country and this decision of the Centre will adversely hit the interests of the peasants of the state.
Mann said that on one hand the state government is making concerted efforts for crop diversification by encouraging the farmers to produce moong, basmati and other alternative crops but on the other hand "such decisions of the Union government are giving major setbacks to it".
Mann said the Centre's move is anti-farmer and anti-state and the state government will vehemently oppose this decision.
In the wake of these restrictions the state government is contemplating selling the basmati crop to states like Kerala, West Bengal and others, Mann said.
He said that the farmers had played a vanguard role in making the country self reliant in food production "but such draconian moves of the Union government is against their interests".
The chief minister also slammed the Centre for allegedly stalling Rural Development Fund (RDF).
Mann said that he had earlier called on the Union Rural Development Minister who had assured him that these funds will be released soon but it never happened and the Union government has "stalled" the RDF of the state worth more than Rs 3,622 crore.
Meanwhile, Mann said that in order to cope up with the problem of paddy straw burning, the state government had mooted the idea of compensating the farmers by giving them Rs 2,500 per acre.
"Out of this, Rs 1,500 was to be given by the central government and Rs 1,000 was to be shared by the state government. Instead of agreeing to this demand, the Union government rejected it without any logic," he said.
The chief minister said that it is overwhelming to note that a large number of youth are showing their keen interest in the Kisan Melas.
He said that over one lakh farmers have participated in the Kisan Mela on the first day.
Mann said that introduction of technology in agriculture will help in transforming the destiny of the farmers and agriculture.
-With PTI input