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CHANDIGARH: Reiterating the paramount interest of Punjab's farmers, the former Member of Parliament (MP) and President Punjab BJP Sunil Jakhar has urged Union Government for an efficacious resolution to all genuine demands of Paddy Rice Industry by engaging all stakeholders.

Calling upon the Union Minister for Food & Public Distribution Piyush Goyal in the National Capital, the veteran Punjab leader along with BJP National General Secretary Tarun Chugh apprised the former about concerns of the paddy and rice growers industry about the Minimum Export Price (MEP) restriction on Basmati and its likely impact on income of farmers growing paddy.

The Union Minister assured Jakhar of fulsome cooperation and assistance by the Centre to the farmers and Rice Industry. Piyush Goyal also asked the concerned officials to look into the genuine demands of the Rice Industry on priority saying that the MEP cap of $1200 per ton on Basmati was a temporary measure and due relief required would be extended to the rice exporters.

Regarding the issue of failure of Fortified Rice (FR) samples Jakhar accompanied by representatives of several Rice Millers Associations, while appreciating the Union Food Department for its efforts to continuously enhance the quality of lab testing, asked the Union Minister to consider evolving a mechanism where all the blame for failed rice samples does not fall on the Millers. Pertinently, various Rice Miller Associations had approached Jakhar over their concerns urging him to take their issues to a logical resolution.

Rice millers procure Fortified Rice Kernels (FRKs) from government authorised private manufacturers and the only thing rice millers can be held liable for is to ensure proper blending ratio of FRK with the Custom Milled Rice (CMR).

The special endeavour to provide our citizens with enhanced nutrition through Fortified Rice is the realisation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's vision for a stronger India, Jakhar underlined while lauding the paddy growing farmers and the rice milling industry for being an equal partners in this aim of long-term national growth.

Over the issue of tangible variance in lab reports of samples drawn from the same rice stacks, Jakhar suggested that going forward more stringent methods should be adopted to guard against any laxity at the time of gathering and opening the rice samples at the FCI and at the level of Ministry mandated labs. He also hoped that with the continuous influx of resources and collaborations, our lab testing ecosystem would be strengthened significantly.

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