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‘Punish govt officers involved’

india Updated: Jan 03, 2011 00:40 IST

How are farmers affected by the illegal import of popcorn maize?
The Indian government does not offer popcorn maize a support price. The prices of popcorn maize are influenced purely by the quantity available in the market.
The domestic industry met the market demand until import of popcorn maize in large quantities at lesser prices started. The violations of import conditions made the product available at cheaper prices compared to the Indian variety.
Farmers are struggling with the rise in production costs and are now facing unethical competition from imported popcorn maize being sold here illegally.

What measures need to be taken to control this racket?
Since popcorn maize imported on records was never supposed to be traded in the market, all efforts to stop it from reaching the market should be made.
Records of stocks should be taken from importers. Even today, there are stocks awaiting clearance at Nhava Sheva and Chennai ports.
When it is proved that the so-called actual users do not have manufacturing units, there is no point delivering the goods because they could be misused again.
The government officers involved in the racket should be punished.
The importers should be penalised and all the duties should be recovered.
The tariff rate quota scheme for maize should be withdrawn immediately.

Do you see complicity of government agencies?
Yes. The State Trading Corporation in an RTI reply had said that regular inspections / monitoring were done by their branch offices and the products were used for the purpose they were imported for. This has been disproved by the DRI in the raids it conducted. In almost all the cases not even one kg of popcorn maize was used by the so-called actual users.
Had the state trading enterprises done their job by identifying the real actual users, the present situation would not have arisen.

Is it true that the popcorn maize grown locally is inferior?
Yes. The reason for this is lack of infrastructure. The concerned departments are not working on the quality parameters.
The foundation seed developed by Indian agricultural universities is inferior if you compare it to the advanced popcorn hybrids of the Americans.

Has the government helped Indian popcorn maize farmers?
No. We request the government either to extend support price to popcorn maize or at least stop import. We request the government to take measures to explain to farmers the techniques for attaining good quality produce.