Since pulses have shelf life of about a year, the government keeps selling the commodities, apart from supplying to defence forces.
The Centre is planning to replenish the buffer stock of pulses, maintained by the consumer affairs ministry, from the procurement made by Nafed under the price support scheme rather than buying afresh. This will save extra expenditure as well as ensure adequate supply in the market, officials said. According to consumer affairs ministry data, out of 20.5 lakh tonne of pulses procured for the buffer stock since October 2016 under the Price Stabilisation Fund (PSF), as much as 7.9 lakh tonne has been sold in the open market as of April 16, leaving a stock of 12.6 lakh tonne. Since pulses have shelf life of about a year, the government keeps selling the commodities, apart from supplying to defence forces.
“Since the decision was to maintain a buffer of 20 lakh tonne pulses, the consumer affairs ministry is considering a request from the agriculture ministry for transfer of pulses,” a government official said. While some pulses have already been purchased by agri cooperative Nafed under the price support scheme (PSS), they are also buying the pulses this year to support farmers, he said.
The agriculture ministry runs the PSS and at the request of a state government asks Nafed to buy pulses and oilseeds to support farmers, when market prices fall below MSPs.
Maximum 40% of the production of the state can be procured under PSS under this scheme and Nafed is reimbursed by the Centre the losses, if any, as it sells the procured commodities in the open market. In 2017-18, Nafed has been asked to buy 33.89 lakh tonne of kharif pulses and oilseeds and 30 lakh tonne from the rabi-grown crops. More than 25 lakh tonne of the commodities have already been purchased by it only from the kharif season and about half of it are pulses only.
“It is not necessary that Nafed will buy the targetted pulses and oilseeds. At times market prices go up after the government procurement starts and that slows down our purchase,” the official said. He also said that more procurement of pulses do not required since that will create an artificial shortage in the market. The government has to maintain a balance between farmer and consumer prices, he added.
By: Prabhudatta Mishra