New Delhi, Oct 18 (UNI) Accusing the Centre of giving a step-motherly treatment to the paddy growers, the BJP today said it would take a delegation to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh next week demanding the government to provide a Minimum Support Price (MSP) of Rs 1000 per quintal of paddy.
BJP Spokesperson Prakash Javadekar told newspersons here that the MSP for per quintal of paddy offered was Rs 725 at present, which was much lower than the MSP of Rs 1000 offered to wheat growers in the country.
Majority of population was rice-consumer. Rice was earlier grown in the states of Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Orissa besides, four southern states and Gangetic plains.
''The 11th plan envisaged an increased production of 10 million tonnes of rice. However, if no proper returns will be given to the producers, how will the target be achieved?'' he asked.
He noted that the argument placed by the planners that rice absorbed more water than wheat was baseless as 80 per cent of the paddy grown in the country was in rain fed areas and only 20 per cent was from irrigated ones.
''The UPA government is just not interested in providing fair returns to paddy growers for some reason or the other,'' he alleged.
He said it was possible to procure wheat in the international market but not paddy and the country should not slip up.
Pointing out to Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar's statement holding the NDA government's policies responsible for the food shortage, Mr Javadekar said Mr Pawar couldn't befool the people by blaming the past.
''He should remember that the food grain production, including wheat, was very good during the NDA regime. Godowns used to be full and the country even exported them unlike now,'' he said.
Mr Pawar should take the blame if there was no procurement by the goverment agencies, he alleged.
The private operators were allowed to corner the food grain production and they used FCI storage facilities to keep their stock, he added.