Grain-surplus states to be allowed to keep more supplies for own use

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New Delhi | Updated: July 8, 2016 7:36:57 AM

To reduce cost of transportation and provide food as per local preferences, the government has decided to give more flexibility to grain-surplus states in rice and wheat supplies to the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS).

To reduce cost of transportation and provide food as per local preferences, the government has decided to give more flexibility to grain-surplus states in rice and wheat supplies to the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS). (Reuters)To reduce cost of transportation and provide food as per local preferences, the government has decided to give more flexibility to grain-surplus states in rice and wheat supplies to the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS). (Reuters)

To reduce cost of transportation and provide food as per local preferences, the government has decided to give more flexibility to grain-surplus states in rice and wheat supplies to the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS).

As per the new policy approved by the food ministry, the grain surplus states — Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Punjab, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Odisha — would be able to keep more quantities of the grain of their choice for local needs.

Currently, north Indian grain-surplus states like Punjab and Haryana get to keep 60% of their PDS wheat for themselves while providing the balance to the FCI for TPDS deliveries to other states. As for south and east Indian states, where rice is the preferred cereal, the ratio is just the other way round. The idea is to remove these curbs totally in view of the local palates. “We have allowed grain surplus states to have rice or wheat in TPDS as per their choice,” the official said.

Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Punjab, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Odisha contribute more than 90% of the total rice procurement of the country carried out by FCI and state government agencies. Punjab, Haryana and MP contribute close to 70% of the wheat purchased from the farmers by government agencies.

Earlier, under TPDS, the states were allocated grain in the ration of 60(rice) : 40(wheat) to eastern and southern states while in case of northern states, the ratio was reversed. Henceforth, all those states who contribute significantly to central pool of grain stocks would be allocated grain as per their choices.

Recently Odisha, which contributes about two million tonne (MT) surplus rice to central pool stocks annually had sought more than 80% of the PDS grain allocation as rice because of consumer preference. Besides, the food ministry official said the objective behind such a policy is to encourage more procurement of rice in the eastern states, as they are asking for more rice under TPDS as wheat consumption is not preferred like in northern Indian states.

Earlier practice was to allocate states both rice and wheat in a manner where the procured grain is distributed evenly across the country. The FCI in collaboration with state government-owned agencies purchase around 55- 60 MT of rice and wheat annually while about 50 MT is allocated to states for implementation of TPDS.

The high level committee (HLC) chaired by former food minister Shanta Kumar last year had recommended that FCI should accept only surplus grain after deducting the needs of the states under the National Food Security Act from grain surplus in Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and Punjab.

“FCI should move on to help those states where farmers suffer from distress sales at prices much below MSP, and which are dominated by small holdings, like Eastern Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Assam etc,” the committee had recommended.

HLC also stated the eastern regions where second green revolution is expected, and ‘where FCI needs to be pro-active, mobilising state and other agencies to provide benefits of MSP and procurement to larger number of farmers, especially small and marginal ones’.

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