The government on Tuesday fixed the rice procurement estimate for the central pool at 518 lakh tonnes (LT) for the current Kharif season, up by 1.60 per cent from the last year despite production concerns. The estimates were finalised after discussion with state food secretaries and Food Corporation of India (FCI) officials in a meeting chaired by Union Food Secretary Sudhanshu Pandey here.
The meeting was called to finalise Kharif rice procurement estimates and discuss preparations to be made for rice procurement that will commence from October onwards.”A quantity of 518 lakh tonne rice has been estimated for procurement during the forthcoming KMS 2022-23 (Kharif Crop) as against 509.82 lakh tonne actually procured during last KMS 2021-22(Kharif crop),” the food ministry said in a statement after the meeting.
In the meeting, the Secretary told state governments that the focus should be on the procurement of millets, not only on account of the International Year of Millet-2023 but also because of climate changes.Climate changes have been adversely affecting wheat and rice and resulting in a reduction in their production, he said.A quantity of 13.70 lakh tonnes of coarse grains ”super food” has been proposed for procurement by the states during the forthcoming 2022-23 Kharif marketing season as against the actual procurement of 6.30 lakh tonnes as of date.
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The government procures paddy and converts it into the rice at mills. The procurement is undertaken at MSP by the state-owned Food Corporation of India (FCI) as well as state organisations.The government has fixed the minimum support price (MSP) of ‘common’ grade paddy at Rs 2040 per quintal and ‘grade A’ at 2060 per quintal for the 2022-23 marketing year.Highlighting the problem of shortage of packaging material, the Secretary said starting October arranging packaging material has become a challenging task as only 50 per cent of the requirement of could be arranged through jute mills.To address the problem, the ministry is exploring possibilities of increasing the production/availability of new jute bags by ways of testing new technology like smart Jute Bags (SJB), he said.As per the report, trials have been found successful and these are at the final stage, he added.Higher rice procurement has been estimated despite production concerns in view of lag in the paddy coverage so far due to poor rains in some parts of the country.
As per the agriculture ministry’s data, the total area sown to paddy remained down by 5.99 per cent at 367.55 lakh hectares (ha) till the last week of the ongoing Kharif season due to poor rains in some states especially Jharkhand, West Bengal and Chhattisgarh.Paddy was sown in 390.99 lakh hectares in the year-ago period, the data showed.During the meeting, issues relating to the adoption of mechanized procurement operations, gunny bags requirements, online settlement of food subsidy claims and reduction in the cost of procurement operations were discussed.Adoption of innovative techniques and quality control mechanisms, borrowing at lower interest rate, promotion of millets among other issues were discussed.”…it was suggested that such innovations should be incentivized,” the statement said.
Representatives from 23 states including Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and West Bengal attended the meeting.IMD and agriculture ministry officials were also present at the meeting.