Despite the delayed monsoon and slow progress in sowing, the government on Monday set a 30 million tonne (mt) rice procurement target for the 2014-15 kharif marketing season, starting October.
This is a moderate revision from the previous year's kharif target of 32 mt while actual purchase from the farmers was more than 26 mt.
The procurement of rice is carried out during the October-September period and over 80% of the total rice purchased from farmers is during the October-April kharif marketing period.
Overall, during the ongoing 2013-14 marketing season which includes both kharif and rabi crops, government-owned agencies such as Food Corporation of India (FCI) and state government owned agencies have lifted 31 mt of rice till now.
According to food ministry sources, Punjab has set a rice procurement target of 8.2 mt for the next kharif market year. The rest of the key contributors to the rice procurement drive by government agencies would be Chhattisgarh (4.3 mt), Uttar Pradesh (4.1 mt), Haryana (2.3 mt), Odisha (2.4 mt) and Andhra Pradesh (2 mt).
“Despite deficit monsoon and delayed sowing, the procurement targets for kharif crops are comparable to the last kharif season’s target and exceed the actual procurement of last year’s kharif crops,” an official statement said.
Haryana and Punjab had contributed 2.6 mt and 8.5 mt of rice, respectively, to the central pool in the previous year's kharif marketing season against 1.9 mt and 7.6 mt contributed in 2011-12. Other key contributors last year had been Andhra Pradesh (6.3 mt, including rabi procurement), Chhattisgarh (4.8 mt) and Odisha (3.5 mt).
Meanwhile, in a meeting chaired by food secretary Sudhir Kumar, the government has asked the key rice procuring states to open adequate purchase centres and deploy sufficient manpower prior to the commencement of the kharif marketing season from October. The states have also been advised to make arrangements for informing farmers about the minimum support price, procurement centres and other related information, a food ministry official said.
FCI and state government owned agencies procure grain from farmers for distribution to the targeted public distribution system and for maintaining buffer stock and strategic reserve norms.
The government's rice stock with the FCI and other agencies was reported to be close to 28 mt at the start of July, which is more than double the strategic reserve and buffer stocks norms.
The government had hiked the minimum support price for paddy (common) variety to