Bumper rice output in Cachar

Silchar, Jan. 23: Cachar district had a record harvest of 2,54,000 tonnes of sali rice this year. According to Wahidur Rahaman, the district agriculture officer here, the reap is at least 20,000 tonnes more than the output of rice recorded last winter, the main season of harvesting in the area. Rahaman said the rainfall, which was over 3,000 mm, helped the sali, the main crop in the district, to ripen abundantly.

Farzan Uddin Ahmed, 59, a farmer at Sonabarighat, 10km southeast of Silchar, said, "-ur thanks to God for gifting us plenty of sali rice this season, which we never dreamt of."

The district agriculture office sources said the average yield of the winter sali rice per hectare in terms of kg had also reached its highest ever at 2,230 kg this year in comparison to the average output recorded at 2,081kg per hectare in 2001.

"It is undoubtedly a happy time for the district's over two lakh farming families," said Rajendra Das, 54, a farmer in Cachar. He has a homestead and cropland of 7.4 bighas in Mohanpur, 15km from Silchar.

Shekhar Bhattacharjee, agriculture information officer in Cachar, said the boost in the output of sali crop this winter was possible by infusing seeds of high-yield rice varieties like IR 36 and 56, Govindabhog, Ratna, Lachit, Monoharsali, Jaya, Sonamukhi and Luit.

Rahaman, however, is worried that the target of 500 tonnes of sali rice procurement in Cachar district may not be realised this year too as middlemen "have embarked on a disinformation campaign" dissuading the farmers from dumping the sali rice at the storehouses of Food Corporation of India (FCI).

He said though his office had taken necessary steps to procure the yield since December 15 farmers have been coming rarely.

The FCI has already set a number of conditions for the procurement of blemish-free rice product like one per cent ceiling on foreign matter in rice, discoloured and shrivelled rice at four per cent of the product and moisture content of rice at the highest ceiling of 17 per cent.

The touts are claiming that the FCI will cheat farmers by rejecting their goods on the pretext of contamination. FCI has fixed the procurement pri-ce of common and the superior grade rice at Rs 1,250 and Rs 1280 per quintal respectively.

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