The food ministry would soon seek nod from the finance ministry for an allocation of Rs 18,500 crore for building up buffer stock of pulses, food minister Ram Vilas Paswan said on Monday. This follows the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) nod for raising buffer stock of pulses to two MT from the current 8 lakh tonne.
The government has assigned farmers cooperative Nafed, Food Corporation of India (FCI) and Small Farmers Agri-business Consortium (SFAC) to buy around one million tonne of pulses from farmers during the ongoing kharif and forthcoming rabi seasons. While another one million tonne of pulses would be imported for creating buffer stocks.
At present, the government agencies buy pulses from traders and farmers for the buffer stocks with R900 crore allocated under the Price Stabilization Fund. “We will held discussion with the finance ministry on the issue of additional allocation of funds for creating buffer stock of pulses which would be uploaded in the market in case of spike in retail prices.
FE had recently reported that pulses’ rates have started to soften across the country following huge spike in retail prices earlier this year. The prices of moong has fallen below minimum support price in various markets across Karnataka and Maharashtra. The Centre has asked agencies to commence procurement of pulses from farmers immediately.
“Main reason for unprecedented price rise in pulses has been two years of deficit rainfall. Due to this, the production of pulses was less compared to the output in previous years, as a result of which there was huge demand-supply gap. This provided an opportunity for middlemen and hoarders to stock and speculate the price of pulses,” the food ministry said in a statement.
State governments would also be asked, wherever possible, to undertake the procurement in a manner similar to decentralised procurement of foodgrains, a food ministry official said.
Due to deficient monsoon, pulse production fell to 16.47 MT in the 2015-16 crop year (July-June), from 17.15 MT in the previous year. In 2013-14, output was over 19 MT. In quantity terms, the pulses imports in 2015-16 stood at 5.79 MT against 4.58 MT reported in 2014-15. The domestic consumption is around 21 – 22 MT.
However, the pulses output is expected to rise to 20 MT in 2016-17 as farmers have grown pulses in more area this year following normal monsoon, high market prices and sharp increase in the MSP.
India has signed a memorandum of understanding with Mozambique to import 3.75 lakh tonne of pulses during 2016-19. Besides Mozambique, the government is also exploring possibilities of importing pulses from African countries like Malawi through leasing of farms for growing pulses to meet domestic demand.