TODAY -

Free rice and plight of state's farmers
- The People's Chronicle Editorial :: September 30, 2022 -



NOW that the Union government has decided to extend the Pradhan Mantri Carib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMCKAY) scheme and continue provision of free ration, mainly rice and wheat to the poor for the next three months, the marginalised section in Manipur would heave a sigh of relief as they are the ones struggling every day to make ends meet.

With scanty rainfall certain to drastically reduce paddy production in the state this year, extension of the centrally-sponsored scheme would definitely help bridge the gap between demand and supply of the staple food item.

Compared to the past when there were huge demand for local rice due to its nutritional content as against the utterly poor quality rice made available under some government schemes, there is no complaints over the quality of paddy rice supplied these days through the public distribution system.

Moreover, owing to health issues even the wealthier class of the society prefer the 'superfine' variety thereby leading to spike in the market rate of the same rice variety and chaotic situations, especially when disruptions are caused to transportation due to natural calamities, indiscretion on the part of those handling the ration distribution system or politicisation of the scheme.

Though periodical reports of the targeted beneficiaries being denied their monthly share allegedly due to nepotism by the ration agents at the behest of their political masters imply that there is some grey area in the distribution mechanism, it's an undeniable fact that in some assembly segments the free rice scheme is being implemented judiciously.

As such, extension of the scheme till December 2022 will be cherished by many as they needn't worry about having a hot meal at-least for three months and could focus on their other daily needs.

Among the various welfare schemes and programmes, launched by the centre, free distribution of ration to 80 crore citizens since March 2020 to lessen the impact from the Coronavirus pandemic is being hailed as the noblest one.

Even if the Union government has been spending huge amount on the scheme, provision of free 5 kg food grain per person every month has been a boon for the economically unsound families and this is one of the reasons why the government has been periodically extending the national scheme that covers over 80 crore beneficiaries enrolled under the National Food Security Act (NFSA).

Compared to the crores of beneficiaries relishing the scheme, the only issue, if any, that could arise due to prolonging of the same, is that the state's farmers might suffer from lack of market for their produce.

When many other states are gradually moving away from their traditional agriculture-based to industry or service-oriented economy, Manipur continues to depend on agricultural sector, especially the rice crop.

The crop's yield level is learnt to be much higher than that of the national level, but its demand in the state has been declining notably.

Nevertheless, it could be safely stated that the farmers' potential problem wouldn't be of immediate concern to the lakhs of scheme's beneficiaries in the state.



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