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An Indian farmer harvests wheat crop that was partially damaged in unseasonal hailstorm and rain, on the outskirt of Ajmer on Tuesday. Photo: Deepak Sharma/AP
An Indian farmer harvests wheat crop that was partially damaged in unseasonal hailstorm and rain, on the outskirt of Ajmer on Tuesday. Photo: Deepak Sharma/AP

Sonia Gandhi writes to Paswan over farmers’ plight

She asked to look into easing government specifications for procurement, particularly with regard to moisture content in the Rabi wheat crop

New Delhi: Congress party president Sonia Gandhi has asked food minister Ramvilas Paswan to ease government specifications for procurement, particularly with regard to moisture content in the Rabi wheat crop.

The Food Corporation of India’s existing procurement manual excludes wheat with moisture content in excess of 14%.

“In normal circumstances such specifications may hold, but over past weeks unseasonal rainfall and hailstorms have severely damaged the wheat crop. This is also a trigger for enhanced moisture content," Gandhi wrote in a letter to the minister, copies of which were made available to the media.

Calling it an “unprecedented crisis," Gandhi said in the letter dated 6 April that while the minimum support price (MSP) for wheat set by the government did not reflect the farmer’s cost, complete denial of the MSP would add to the problems farmers are facing.

“These are difficult days for the farmers and not being able to sell their produce defeats the very purpose of guaranteeing MSP to farmers," she wrote.

She requested the government to give “small but significant" relief to farmers. Gandhi has recently visited Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan to meet farmers affected with unseasonal rains and hailstorms.

Last week, she wrote to Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav to highlight the plight of farmers whose crops have been damaged by untimely showers

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