Despite prospect of a lower output this year due to deficient monsoon, rice procurement by Food Corporation of India (FCI) and state government-owned agencies this kharif marketing season (2015-16) has seen a sharp increase of more than 31% so far in comparison to last year.
The government agencies have purchased more than 14.06 million tonne of rice since October 1 (when new procurement season began) till Tuesday, compared to 10.7 million tonne rice purchased from farmers during the same period last year.
Food ministry sources told FE that the higher procurement of rice is also attributed to fall in prices of common variety of rice in various mandis across the country. “The farmers prefer to sell their grain to agencies rather than giving it to private traders in Punjab and Haryana,” an official said. Even Basmati paddy prices is in the range of Rs 2,200 to Rs 2,800 per quintal in the mandis across Punjab and Haryana.
As per the latest data, out of the total rice equivalent of paddy procurement in Punjab, the agencies have purchased 9.3 million tonne of rice till now thus surpassing even the target of 8.8 million tonne for 2015-16 marketing season. In Punjab, which contributes highest volume of rice and wheat to the central pool, 7.7 million tonne of rice was purchased during the same period last year.
In Haryana, the state government agencies have purchased more than 2.8 million tonne of rice equivalent of paddy by now, thus surpassing the target of 2.3 million tonne set for the year. Other states, which have commenced rice procurement, include Uttar Pradesh (3.8 lakh tonne), Telangana (4.9 lakh tonne), Kerala (76,933 tonne), etc. Chhattisgarh recently commenced rice procurement drive while the purchasing campaign would commence in Odisha shortly.
Food ministry officials say if the current trend continues, the overall rice procurement during 2015-16 period would surpass the target of 30 million tonne. The agencies had purchased 32 million tonne of rice so far in 2014-15 marketing year (October-September). The agencies buy paddy from the farmers and give to millers for conversion into rice.
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs in June had increased the minimum support price of common variety of paddy by Rs 50 to Rs 1,410 per quintal for 2015-16 kharif season. The hike in MSP is in line with the recommendation of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices.
Meanwhile, the food ministry has asked agencies in the decentralised procurement states Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Odisha and other non-traditional states Bihar and Jharkhand to maximise the procurement of rice and coarse grains during next marketing season. The FCI has been preparing a policy for involving private sectors in the procurement of rice in eastern states.