Govt raises rice procurement target for this year marginally

The Center has kept the quantum of rice to be procured in the current monsoon (Kharif) season at roughly the same as last year, while the quantum of millets to be procured has shown an increase.

The Food Corporation of India (FCI) and state government agencies are preparing for the procurement of 521.27 lakh metric tonne (LMT) of rice from the upcoming Kharif crop. This target is slightly higher than the 518 LMT procurement estimate for the previous Kharif season in 2022, where around 496 LMT was actually purchased.

India will see general elections to the central parliament next year. The government is expected to unveil more pro-farmer policies in the coming days.

Meanwhile, the major rice producing states of Punjab, Chhattisgarh, Telangana, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu are expected to contribute the most towards meeting the all-India rice procurement target.

Punjab tops the list with an expected procurement of 122 LMT, followed by Chhattisgarh at 61 LMT. Telangana and Odisha are other major contributors with estimates of 50 LMT and 44.28 LMT respectively.

The government has set the Minimum Support Price (MSP) of common grade paddy at Rs 2,060 per quintal for the 2023 Kharif season, an increase of 5.2% over last year’s MSP of Rs 1,960 per quintal. The higher MSP aims to incentivize farmers to grow rice and help meet the procurement targets.

Along with rice, the government is also targeting procurement of coarse grains and millets during this KMS. The target for coarse grains has been set at 33.09 LMT, significantly higher than the actual procurement of 7.37 LMT last Kharif season.

The government has introduced six minor millets – ragi, jowar, bajra, kutki, kodo and chena – to be procured at MSP starting this Kharif season. This move aims to promote the production and consumption of nutritious millets, aligning with the International Year of Millets 2023 initiatives.

To facilitate higher procurement, the government has revised guidelines to allow inter-state transportation of millets, provide advanced subsidy and administrative charges, it said.

States have been advised to focus on millet procurement for crop diversification and enhancing nutritional security.

“The robust procurement targets demonstrate the government’s commitment to ensuring remunerative prices for farmers through an MSP-based procurement system. The focus on nutritious millets also highlights the priority on improving nutritional outcomes. Timely procurement operations by the FCI and state agencies will be essential to meet the Kharif season objectives,” the government said.

During the meeting, issues relating to gunny bags requirement, route optimization for transportation of foodgrains from designated depots to Fair Price Shops, improving infrastructure in procurement centres, monitoring of wheat stock limit portal etc. were also discussed.