Chandigarh, August 28, 2023: As per media reports Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) President and Former Deputy Chief minister of Punjab Sukhbir Singh Badal on Monday urged the Union government to immediately review its decision to effectively ban export of rice.
“Every time our farmers stand to profit from an increase in global rice prices, the centre bans its export. This is discriminatory. The ban needs to be revoked immediately,” the SAD president said while reacting to the ban imposed on basmati rice valued at less than $1,200 per metric tonne which the government claims is aimed at stopping the export of non-basmati rice by reclassifying the same.
Stating that this was another anti-farmer decision close on the heels of ban on export of non-basmati rice and levy of 20 per cent duty on export of par-boiled rice, Badal said “Instead of such bans the Union government should hike the minimum support price (MSP) of paddy to aid the food security needs of the country”.
Asserting that farmers had been dealt a double whammy by being forced to sell their paddy crop at a lower MSP compared to world prices, the SAD chief said “Now when they stand to benefit due to high export price of rice, export of this commodity has been banned”.
Badal said earlier farmers had been denied the benefits of an increase in wheat prices globally with the central government banning wheat export last year.
“Farmers desperately need higher prices to offset the loss due to flooding which has forced many of them to go in for re-transplantation of paddy when the first crop was destroyed. With no fair compensation for their crop losses in sight with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government failing to even complete the girdawari exercise, the ban on export of rice as well as exorbitant duties on par-boiled rice will heighten the farm crisis in the state,” he said.
The SAD president also asserted that contrary to projections, rice prices only accounted for a slight increase in the consumer price index and should not be decreased forcibly.
“Inflation in India is being driven by the high prices of petrol and diesel as well as vegetables and these twin issues which should be addressed immediately,” he said. Badal 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 this year end.
He said in the case of Punjab, the agriculture sector was already in a state of crisis with rains damaging both the paddy and cotton crops in the region.
Stating that a fall in demand of rice would have a negative spiral impact on the entire economy, the SAD leader 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.