1. Govt to buy 15,000 tonne of onion for buffer stock

Govt to buy 15,000 tonne of onion for buffer stock

Nafed, SFAC to carry out procurement; agencies also likely to procure 1 lakh tonne of pulses in coming rabi season

By: | New Delhi | Published: March 2, 2016 12:09 AM

In a bid to deal with a spike in prices, the government will buy 15,000 tonne of onion from farmers to create a buffer stock. This will be utilised for market intervention in the event of a price rise during lean months, especially during October-December.

The procurement of onion would begin from next month because a late kharif arrival across the mandis has pulled down the prices.

Last year, the retail price of onion rose to about R80 per kg in October in Delhi. The sharp rise in prices had forced the government to boost supply in the market by purchasing onions from domestic as well as overseas market. “We have decided to buy 15,000 tonne of onion from next month from Lasalgaon in Maharashtra,” consumer affairs secretary C Viswanath said.

He said nodal agencies Nafed and Small Farmers Agribusiness Consortium (SFAC) will do the procurement of onion.

The stock would be kept at Lasalgoan. The Price Stabilisation Fund (PSF) would be utilised for the onion procurement.

Finance minister Arun Jaitley has allocated R900 crore under the PSF for 2016 – 17. Last year, the government had procured 8,000 tonne of onion from Egypt and China, which could be used because of delay in procurement. Also, the quality of onion imported could not generate demand in domestic market.

This time, the consumer affairs ministry has been asked to prepare timely import plans for pulses and onions. It has also been asked to intervene in the market on time so that consumers do not face sudden spike in prices.

Onion production is estimated to have risen to 20.33 million tonne (mt) in 2015-16 from 18.92 mt in the previous year, Minister of state for agriculture Mohanbhai Kundariya said in a written reply to the Lok Sabha on Tuesday. Due to a sharp fall in onion prices, the government had removed the minimum export price of onion in December last year. “Despite drought during the current year and excessive rains in southern states, onion production during the current 2015-16 agriculture year is expected to be higher as compared with the previous year,” Kundariya said. At present, retail price of onion is ruling at R20 per kg in the national capital.

Meanwhile, the government has purchased more than 50,000 tonne of pulses —  tur and urad — in the just-concluded kharif marketing season. Agencies such as Food Corporation of India (FCI), SFAC and farmers’ cooperative Nafed had been urged to procure 1 lakh tonne of masoor and gram in the coming rabi season. Last year, the government had decided to create a buffer stock of around one lakh tonne of pulses.

The decision to create a buffer stock was taken when the retail prices of arhar in Delhi were ruling high at R200 per kg, while urad was being sold at R190 per kg in October 2015.

According to official data, India had imported 4.5 million tonne of pulses for meeting domestic shortfall last fiscal and in the current year the imports are expected to be around 4.1 mt. Besides private imports, state-run MMTC imported 5,000 tonne of tur dal to augment domestic supplies.

Shopping list
* In a bid to deal with a spike in prices, the government will buy 15,000 tonne of onion from farmers to create a buffer stock
* This will be utilised for market intervention in the event of a price rise during lean months, especially during
October-December
* The government has purchased over 50,000 tonne of pulses in the just-concluded kharif marketing season
* Agencies such as FCI, SFAC and Nafed urged to procure 1 lakh tonne of masoor and gram in the coming rabi season

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