In case of Punjab and Haryana, the harvesting has already begun and farmers have been gradually bringing their produce to markets. The procurement season is between October-September.
Just to two weeks into the commencement of procurement of rice for the kharif marketing season (2017-18), the Food Corporation of India (FCI) in collaboration with the state government-owned agencies has purchased five million tone (mt) of grain from farmers especially in Haryana and Punjab. An official said that the harvesting of rice in eastern and southern states would begin by the end of November while reaching its peak by January and February. In case of Punjab and Haryana, the harvesting has already begun and farmers have been gradually bringing their produce to markets. The procurement season is between October-September. As per the target, the Punjab is expected to contribute more than 11.5 mt of rice to the central pool this year while other key contributors would be Chhattisgarh (4.8 mt), Haryana (3 mt), Odisha (3 mt), Uttar Pradesh (3.7 mt) and Andhra Pradesh (2.5 mt).
The government has set a procurement target of 37.5 mt rice for the entire kharif season, during which more than 95% of grain is produced. In 2016-17 kharif season, the agencies purchased 34.35 mt rice. In the entire rice procurement season (Oct-Sept) for 2016-17, FCI and state agencies had purchased 38 mt from the farmers. However, the FCI has been holding on to excess stocks because of higher procurement against allocation under the National Food Security Act (NFSA). During FY17, FCI had allocated 30.35 mt rice to states for implementation of NFSA while the offtake was around 29.29 mt, thus leaving out the rest of the stocks as excess. On September 1, 2017, FCI had rice stocks in excess of 18 mt against the buffer stocks requirement of 10 mt besides around 2.2 mt of grain is yet to be received from the millers. Earlier the Centre had approved a hike of Rs 80 per quintal in paddy MSP at Rs 1,550 for common grade variety.
The FCI, in collaboration with state government agencies, procures rice and wheat largely from Punjab and Haryana, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Odisha, Chhattisgarh and Uttar Pradesh. FCI stores these in warehouses and distributes to states for PDS operations. Under the decentralised procurement followed in Chhattisgarh, Odisha and others, rice and wheat are procured from farmers within their borders and after meeting the local PDS requirement, the surplus is offered to FCI for delivery in grain-deficit regions. The Comptroller and Auditor General, in its recent report, had stated that due to non-settlement of expenses of FCI by finance ministry over the years, the corporation has paid more than Rs 42,000 crore between 2011-12 and 2016-17 as interest on loans availed by the food agency.