Kolkata: Following the direction of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, the state Cooperation department is setting up ‘banking service points’ at non-banking villages.The Chief Minister had directed to take necessary steps to ensure that people in rural parts of the state do not need to travel long distances in order to avail banking services.There were around 700 Gram Panchayats without banking services. In a bid to end such an inconvenience, the state Cooperation department took up the step of installing banking service points. As many as 2,600 banking service points are being set up. Most of the banking services facilities will be available at the service points. Online banking services will also be available. Also Read – Rain batters Kolkata, cripples normal lifeArup Roy, the state Cooperation minister, announced that there won’t be anymore villages in the state without banking services facilities while addressing the convention on direct paddy procurement organised at Nazrul Mancha on Monday in which representatives of 1,000 cooperative societies were present.State Education Minister Partha Chatterjee, state Urban Development and Municipal Affairs minister Firhad Hakim, state Food and Supplies minister Jyotipriya Mallick and state Agriculture Marketing minister Tapan Dasgupta were present at the inaugural function. Also Read – Speeding Jaguar crashes into Mercedes car in Kolkata, 2 pedestrians killedMentioning that around 28 lakh metric tonne paddy was purchased directly from farmers in the last fiscal, Roy said: “This year as well his department is ready to go for direct purchase as per the target that will be set by the Chief Minister.” He further said that 80 percent of the total paddy purchase in the state takes place through cooperative societies. “Moreover, one lakh families will get Rs 18,000 each as financial support for poultry farming,” he added. Chatterjee said distress sell of agricultural produce by farmers has become a matter of past and this comes at a time when cooperative banks have provided more help through agricultural loans compared to other banks. He also took a dig at the erstwhile Left Front government for corruption in the cooperation system.It may be mentioned that around Rs 4,000 crore was disbursed as agricultural loan in 2017-18 through cooperatives, while the amount has increased to Rs 5200 in 2018-19. He further said he will be speaking to the Chief Minister to ensure that storage capacity for vegetables is increased. The step is needed to check wastage of vegetables.While speaking at the programme, Hakim said: “Farmers income has increased manifold in the state and it has ensured development in the state’s rural economy.” He added that no more distress sell takes place in the state.Mallick, whose department works hand in glove with the state Cooperation department in direct purchase of paddy, said: “Bengal is now a role model for the Centre as we directly transfer money to the bank account of farmers. Moreover, a toll free number will be introduced on which a farmer can call and inform if he wants to sell paddy. Subsequently, officials will visit his place with a truck to buy the same.”He further maintained that his department is yet to get Rs 300 crore for supplying rice for ICDS centres and midday meals. “Now, the Centre and the Food Corporation of India are at loggerheads over who’s going to pay for the same,” Mallick said adding that his department is prepared to supply 4 lakh metric tonne rice for ICDS centres and midday meal.
Food critics, bloggers and enthusiasts are in for a treat as they can witness the expertise of culinary geniuses along with getting a chance to explore various facets of Indian cuisine. Indian Culinary Forum along with the Hospitality First and ITPO hosted the ‘Culinary Art India 2016’ on Tuesday at Pragati Maidan. The event, which is a part of Aahar International Food and Hospitality fair, will see culinary exhibitions, competitions and live cooking contests apart from stalls of food products from around the globe being held at the venue. It is a platform to create awareness about the profession of chefs and felicitate the achievers. The five-day event will go on till March 19. Also Read – ‘Playing Jojo was emotionally exhausting’The event has around 300 chefs exhibiting their skills under one roof and participating in various categories of competitions. All the jury members for the competitions are WACS (World Association of Chefs Societies) certified chefs and renowned food critics.Chef Shanli Ong Beng Yew from Malaysia, who is presiding as the chairperson of the jury, said, “We are evaluating the preparations on the levels of creativity of the chefs through taste, proportion and presentation of the dishes. First the eye appeal and then the taste matters, that is the whole idea of culinary art. So far I have seen that the young Indian chefs are very innovative and creative with their methods of cooking.” Also Read – Leslie doing new comedy special with NetflixThe event started with chefs showcasing authentic Indian regional cuisine. Other categories of competitions include artistic pastry showpiece, fruit and vegetable carving, petit fours and pralines, three-course dinner menu, three tier wedding cakes, plated appetisers and pralines, dress the cake, artistic bakery showpiece, plated desserts and mocktails.Chef Devinder Kumar, President, Indian Culinary Forum said, “The overall participation has increased this year. We evaluate them based on the merits and maintain total transparency. Only the best of the best are awarded for specific categories. It is also a very good platform for visitors, as they also get to see the latest trends in cooking.” The winners of the competitions will be announced on March 19, at the end of the event. Chef Lukesh Bajaj, one of the participants in the category of authentic Indian regional cuisine said, “North Indian cuisine is my specialty. I have put up two main courses, including vegetarian dishes and non-vegetarian dishes, rice, chapattis and two desserts-‘phirni’ and chocolate ‘gulab jamun’. I had a great experience participating in today’s competition.” Among several stalls of processed food and beverages were Tops, India Gate, and many foreign brands from around the world. The Aahar International Food and Hospitality Fair is not only a forum for exhibiting culinary skills but also a large platform for entrepreneurs and food brands to showcase their products and stimulate business-to-business and business-to-customers sales.