ISLAMABAD - The federal governments reluctance in taking stern action against the culprits involved in rice procurement scam and exploitation of the farmers has shaken the growers trust, thus barring them from extensive cultivation of the crop in the upcoming food year (2009-10), TheNation reliably learnt. During the last food year (2008-09), the government had announced that it would procure 1.0 million tons rice paddy from the growers and had assigned the contracts to rice millers for the purpose, making them bound to procure the product from the growers at a price not less than Rs 1500 per 40kg for basmati rice paddy. PASSCO officials were appointed to monitor the whole process and ensure the procurement as per the instructions of the government. But contrary to the government instructions, most of the officials joined hands with the millers in fleecing the farmers by procuring their product at cheaper rates, sources said. As per sources, the government, after receiving plenty of complaints, had constituted an investigative team to unearth the facts. The probe team after necessary investigations presented its report to the government, which had indicated that the complaints were true and the rice growers had been looted by the millers in collaboration with the government officials, said the sources. According to the well-placed sources, the Agriculture Ministry and Director General PASSCO despite having clear report are reluctant to take action against the culprits for exploiting the poor farmers by depriving them of huge money. The docile approach of the government functionaries has badly shaken the trust of the government. Ibrahim Mughal, President Agri Forum Pakistan while talking to TheNation said that the government needed to take action against the culprits if it wanted to restore farmers confidence. Though the Federal Minister for Food and Agriculture has suspended two PASSCO officials in Mandi Bahauddin, but that is not enough as there are many other government officials in different parts of the country who have robbed the farmers of millions of rupees. Mandi Bahauddin is the home district of the Minister for Food and Agriculture, and there is a message that he is only interested in the issue as long as it affects his own vote bank. He has no concern for the plight of the farmers, the hapless victims of the scam, in other parts of the country. Ibrahim Mughal said that Nazar Gondal being agriculture minister was responsible to secure the rights of the farmers across the country and he must set an example by taking action against those who are responsible for the scam.