The government on Tuesday set a marginally higher target of 51.8 million tonne (mt) of kharif rice procurement for 2022-23 season (October-September) by the Food Corporation of India (FCI) and state government agencies against the actual procurement in previous year despite the possibility of drop in output because of lower paddy sowing.
Kharif rice procurement was 50.9 mt in 2021-22 season.
The target for kharif procurement was finalised at the meeting called by food ministry of 22 rice-producing states and Union Territories for making assessment of kharif paddy crop and setting a target for volume of procurement to be undertaken by states.
The meeting comes amidst a 6% fall in sowing of paddy area so far in comparison to last year, because of severe deficiency in the monsoon rainfall in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal.
“Based on the response of the states, there would not be a significant fall in rice output because of deficiency in monsoon rainfall in some parts of eastern regions,” Sudhanshu Pandey, secretary, department of food and public distribution, told FE.
However, he said that rice output is likely to decline production in West Bengal, the largest rice-producing state, which had procured 2.4 mt of grain in the current season (2021-22).
Area under paddy in West Bengal was down 12.5% on year as per the data released last week by agriculture ministry.
Sources said that decline in production in eastern states is likely to be compensated by higher production in Telangana, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.
Kharif procurement contributes around 86% of the total rice purchased from the farmers by Food Corporation of India (FCI) and state agencies under the minimum support price (MSP) operation.
The government had earlier increased the MSP of the common variety of paddy by more than 5% to `2,040 a quintal for 2022-23 season from `1,940 per quintal in the previous season.
After paddy is procured from the farmers by FCI and state agencies, it is handled over millers for conversion into rice.
In the current procurement season (2021-22), FCI have procured more than 59.1 mt of rice so far, overall procurement is expected to exceed 60 mt by September-end.
In the previous year, rice procurement was a record 60.2 mt. Rice production had hit a record 130.29 MT in the 2021-22 crop year, having recorded an increase of close to 5% from a year before.
States including Punjab, Haryana, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh contribute significantly to the central rice pool which is used for supplying grain to beneficiaries under the National Food Security Act and free ratio scheme. The rice procured from grain surplus states is also used for keeping a buffer stock with FCI.
At the beginning of this month, the rice stock held with FCI was 27.9 mt. This stock excludes 13 mt of rice yet to be received from millers. Current rice stocks far exceed buffer stock norms.
The food ministry also urged states to procure 1.37 mt of coarse grains in the next season against actual procurement of 0.6 mt in 2021-22 season.