Bhubaneswar, Sep 25 :
A rice millers’ association in Odisha Thursday opposed the central government’s newly announced moisture norms for rice procurement.
“The central government, in a notification earlier this month, has kept the maximum limit of moisture content in fair average quality (FAQ) rice unchanged at 14 percent for procurement,” AORMA secretary Santosh Agrawal told IANS Thursday.
“But the rice procurement with moisture content up to a maximum limit of 15 percent with value cut which was prevailing in earlier years was found missing in the notification,” Santosh Agrawal said.
Agrawal said: “This implies that in the khariff marketing season 2014-15 which starts from Oct 1, 2014, rice with moisture content beyond 14 percent will not be accepted and the consignment will be rejected and have to be taken back by the millers.
“In order to limit the moisture content exactly at 14 percent the millers have to maintain average moisture of 13-13.5 percent during milling of paddy to accommodate climatic variations.
“The main problem is that by keeping low moisture in the paddy before milling, the paddy will lose its elasticity, which is essential to withstand the pressure of rice polishing and the percentage of broken rice will increase resulting in loss of overall full grain rice recovery.
“It will also adversely affect the rice out-turn ratio (paddy to rice).
“This is an all India problem but states like Odisha, which produce higher quantity of boiled rice, will be the most affected.
“Millers are already suffering from high handedness of the labourers and depot in-charge. This will further aggravate the situation, as loaded trucks may be returned on the pretext of even slightest variation beyond 14 percent.
“Our association demands immediate restoration of the procedure of accepting rice with moisture beyond 14 percent against a rebate up to maximum 15 percent as was prevailing during earlier years, for the ensuing Kharif marketing season to ensure smooth procurement operation.
“The association has written a letter to the secretary of the food and civil supply department of the Odisha government Thursday and has sought its recommendation to the central government in this regard.
“Two delegates representing state rice millers will be meeting the union food minister at New Delhi Sep 29 along with delegates from other states through federation of All India Rice Millers Association.
“On an average Odisha produces seven million tonnes of paddy every year and procures 4.5 million tonnes from farmers for custom milling to produce three million tonnes of rice,” Agrawal said.