Despite a substantial decline in rice procurement in Punjab and Haryana, the government agencies have purchased 31.9 million tonne (mt) of the grain from the farmers in the marketing year (2014-15), compared with 31.8 mt in the previous year.
In the 2014-15 (October-September) marketing year, states such as Odisha and West Bengal have contributed more to rice purchase drive compared to the previous year. Punjab and Haryana which together usually account for more than one third of country’s rice procurement, have contributed 7.7 mt and 2 mt of grain respectively in the current marketing year against 8.1 mt and 2.4 mt respectively in the previous year.
Odisha and West Bengal have contributed 3.4 mt and 2 mt of rice to central pool so far, while in 2013 – 14 the volume of procurement in these two states were 2.8 mt and 1.2 mt respectively.
However in Chhattisgarh, the rice procurement this year has declined to 3.3 mt from 4.2 mt reported in the previous year. Chhattisgarh discontinued giving bonus to farmers along with mandatory Minimum Support Price (MSP) this year. Other key contributors to the central pool include Andhra Pradesh (3.5 mt) and Telangana (3.5 mt) respectively.
Officially, the rice purchase drive by Food Corporation of India (FCI) and state government owned corporations comes to an end on September 30. The government has set a 30 mt rice purchase target for 2015-16 period which would commence on October 1.
As per the latest data, the government agencies have rice stocks of 13.8 mt on September 1. Besides around 2.4 mt of rice is yet to be received from the millers. A food ministry official told FE that the corporation’s current level of rice stocks is well within requirement of buffer stocking norm for October, when FCI needs to have 10.2 mt of grain.
The rice procured by FCI and other agencies are used for distribution through Targetted Public Distribution System and also for keeping buffer stocks.
Meanwhile, in a bid to increase the outreach of MSP operations among farmers, the food ministry has decided to allow private players to purchase rice in some eastern states from the next marketing season, which commences from October 1.
Sources told FE that private firms will be allowed to procure paddy from farmers in Assam, Bihar, eastern Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and West Bengal, where FCI does not have a robust procurement mechanism, which often forces farmers to go for distress sale.
As per the new policy, private parties would be engaged in procurement of paddy from farmers in a cluster, identified by the respective state government and they would deliver custom milled rice (CMR) at the FCI or state government-owned agency godowns.
“Private parties would be allowed to procure paddy from farmers in those areas where FCI and state government-owned agencies do not have significant presence,” a food ministry official said
The government has announced an MSP for common and grade-A varieties of paddy at R1,410 and R1,450 per quintal respectively for the 2015-16 season.