Just about 10 lakh tonnes or 3% of the summer crop output of 314 lakh tonnes were procured by the national-level procurer Nafed as on January 3 and it may end up buying 16 lakh tonnes (5%) or thereabouts before the season ends.
Forget the fanfare about the PM-AASHA scheme that is designed to lend greater price support to farmers, procurement of pulses and oilseeds by the public sector is likely to drop by more than a third in the kharif 2018 season from the year-ago period. The decline in procurement comes after two consecutive kharif seasons in which it surged and reached a critical mass, compared with very small quantities earlier.
Just about 10 lakh tonnes or 3% of the summer crop output of 314 lakh tonnes were procured by the national-level procurer Nafed as on January 3 and it may end up buying 16 lakh tonnes (5%) or thereabouts before the season ends. While PM-AASHA also comprises a price deficiency support scheme that doesn’t involve physical procurement of the produce, it hasn’t picked up anywhere, except in Madhya Pradesh.
Nafed managing director Sanjeev K Chadha attributed the expected fall in procurement of oilseeds and pulses during kharif 2018 to a rise in market (mandi) prices. “Private traders have started buying pulses in a big way from the farmers after we have stopped offloading stocks in the open market,” he said. Currently, Nafed holds record pulses-and-oilseeds stocks — 49.47 lakh tonnes as of January 3.
As reported by FE earlier, under its price-deficiency payment scheme Bhavantar, which doesn’t involve physical procurement of crops, the Madhya Pradesh government has ensured minimum support price (MSP) benefit for over 15 lakh tonnes of soybean and another 9 lakh tonnes of maize. While PM-AASHA hasn’t lifted the sentiment in the rural sector, the Narendra Modi government is now formulating another package for farmers that includes a sweetened crop insurance scheme and an income support scheme modelled on Telangana’s Rythu Bandhu.
After the launch of PM-AASHA in September last year, noted agriculture economist Ashok Gulati had told FE: “In another one month, we will see how much the government and the private sector can procure to lift market prices to MSP levels. If market prices remain depressed, unloading those stocks will entail large losses. Who will bear that? A procurement policy without clarity on disposable strategy is like driving a bicycle on one wheel.”
According to market sources, there is an increase in wholesale rate of chana by Rs 3-4 per kg (5-7%), tur and moong by Rs 10 per kg (14%) and masoor dal by Rs 4-5 per kg (8-10%), since the subsidised pulses (PDS) scheme was launched in November 2018. Under the scheme, which will run for one year, the Centre is selling raw pulses to states at Rs 15 per kg discount from the current market price. States bear the costs of transportation, handling, milling and packaging.
Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Tripura and Jharkhand have already made advance payment to Nafed for 3.22 lakh tonne of pulses. The Centre has earmarked 34.88 lakh tonne of pulses under this scheme.
Experts are of the opinion that there should be permanent mechanism for disposal of oilseeds and pulses similar to the one like rice and wheat. The progress of procurement of pulses and oilseeds is slow also because nearly half of the arrivals in mandis don’t match FAQ (fair and average quality) standards and hence are not procured by Nafed.