The government is considering a proposal to offer chana (gram) from its buffer stock at discounted prices to states for distribution under various welfare schemes. The idea is to liquidate excess chana stocks held with farmers’ cooperative National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India (Nafed).
At present, against the buffer stock norm of 2.3 million tonne (MT), Nafed has 3.6 MT of pulses. Of this, chana stock is around 2.7 MT. However, in the case of other varieties of pulses, because of lower procurement the government’s stocks are smaller — moong (0.11 MT), urad (0.02 MT), tur (0.09 MT) and masoor (0.07 MT) at present.
Around 0.25 MT of chana stock held with Nafed were procured in the last year.
Sources said keeping in mind the quality aspect of year-old crop and reducing the recurring expenses towards carry-forward stocks, the government is aiming at liquidating stocks.
In 2017-18, the government had offered pulses to the states at a discount of Rs 15 a kg to the procurement cost. The focus was to enable the states to use pulses in various welfare schemes like public distribution system, mid-day meal scheme, integrated child development programmes, etc. The production of chana (gram) grew by more than 17% in the 2021-22 crop year (July-June) to 13.98 MT from 11.91 MT reported in the previous year. Chana has a share of 50% in total pulses production. Because of record production in the current year, Nafed has been procuring the pulses variety under price support scheme for providing minimum support price (MSP) to farmers. Till now, more than 2.4 MT of chana has been procured under PSS operation.
The target for chana procurement is around 2.9 MT for the current session.
Current mandi prices of chana are ruling at Rs 4,600-4,800 a quintal across markets, against an MSP of Rs 5,230 a quintal, which has led to an increase in procurement by Nafed. For gram (chana) split, the inflation was (-) 0.88% in May 2022, while inflation for pulses at a category was (-) 0.41% .
Gram has 0.6% weightage in food inflation calculation.
A major part of the total production goes into further processing for producing gram flour (besan). Meanwhile, Nafed has also commenced open auctions of chana in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka for the bulk buyers of the commodity.
In 2016, the government had created a buffer stock of pulses, so that retail prices could be moderated through releasing of stock in the open market in a calibrated manner.
Nafed procures pulses on behalf of the department of consumer affairs and the department of agriculture & farmers’ welfare, under a price stabilisation fund and price support scheme.