National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India (Nafed) will help Food Corporation of India (FCI) procure rice from farmers in Assam. Food ministry has directed Nafed in this regard following a request by the Assam government, food and agriculture minister KV Thomas told FE. The move aims to ensure better price realisation for farmers in Assam, which is expecting a bumper crop.
This will be the first time Nafed – which usually buys oilseeds and pulses – procures rice in Assam, which is traditionally done by FCI. Even though FCI has a robust machinery in key producing states like Punjab, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Orissa, it is relatively weak in the north-east, which is why the crop forecasts prompted Assam to seek help.
“We have instructed Nafed to help Assam in rice procurement,” Thomas told FE. Procurement is expected to start in the next few weeks.
Thomas has also asked Assam to use the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development allocation of R2,000 crore during the current fiscal to create warehousing infrastructure in various states.
“We are willing to supplement FCI in its rice procurement drive,” Rajeev Gupta, managing director, Nafed said.
Kharif rice procurement has crossed 11 mt, mainly from Punjab, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Chhattisgarh and Uttar Pradesh. With procurement starting soon in Orissa, West Bengal and Bihar, the government is on course to meet the year’s record target of 35.31 mt. “We will meet the target comfortably,” Thomas noted. Rice output this fiscal is expected at over 102 mt.Since October 1, various agencies have purchased 7.6 mt in Punjab, 1.9 mt Haryana and 2.61 mt in Tamil Nadu. FCI has been buying paddy (common) at R 1,000 a quintal and paddy (Grade A) at R1,030 a quintal in the ongoing 2010-11 marketing year. As on November 1, the central rice pool stocked over 26 mt, which was far above the strategic reserve of 2 mt and buffer stocks norms of 5.2 mt.