The government has created a buffer stock of 20 lakh tonnes of pulses and now it is grappling with the problem of distributing them, Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said today. The buffer stock was created to manage price volatility through buying from local and overseas markets using the Price Stabilisation Fund. “Right now, we have around 20 lakh tonnes of pulses in buffer stock. 16.27 lakh tonnes has been procured locally and 3.79 lakh tonnes imported. There is one problem, how do we distribute it,” Paswan told reporters while briefing his ministry’s achievements in last three years. Pulses production has gone up this year and farmers are not getting the right price. However, the higher output has helped retail prices cool down, he added. The problem, however, is distribution of the buffer pulses stock, he added.
The ministry is in talks with various states and agencies for sale of pulses from the buffer stock. It is planning to sell some quantities to the Defence and para-military forces as also to give to states, a senior government official said. Pulses output is estimated to be a record 22.40 million tonnes in the 2016-17 crop year ending June, as against 16.35 MT previous year. This would reduce the country’s dependence on imports to some extent as demand-supply gap is 2-3 MT. On retail prices of 22 essential commodities tracked by the government, Paswan said they are stable and under control. “With GST and implementation of e-national agri-market, both farmers and consumers will benefit,” he added.
With regard to cane arrears, Paswan said that dues owed by sugar mills to growers have come down to Rs 7,500 crore out of the outstanding Rs 54,000 crore during the 2016-17 season (October-September).
Highlighting measures taken to protect consumers, he said the number of helplines have been increased from 14 to 60 in 2016 and will be increased to 120 shortly by setting up zonal consumer helpline (ZCH).
The government has come out with guidelines on direct selling, national building code, two laws — BIS Act and Consumer Protection Act — have been replaced. The new BIS Act has already been passed by Parliament, while the other one is in the process.
Minister of State for Food and Consumer Affairs C R Choudhary, Food Secretary Preeti Sudan and Consumer Affairs Secretary Jadgish Prasad Meena were present at the event.