The Centre, which is sitting on buffer stock of 1.8 million tonnes of pulses, is aiming to dispose of up to 500,000 tonnes of lentils by March 2018 by distributing through the various welfare programmes, a senior food ministry official said on Monday. Last week, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) gave approval for distributing a part of the pulses buffer stock to central schemes such as mid-day meal and other state-run agencies besides state governments. “The recent CCEA approval will help clear at least 350,000-500,000 tonnes of pulses from the buffer stock by end of this fiscal year,” the official told PTI.
Already, pulses are being given to some state governments at a subsidised rate for distribution through the ration shops.The concerned ministries, implementing various schemes, have been asked to provide their requirement for pulses. It is estimated that the mid-day meal scheme alone would require around 500,000 tonnes of pulses annually and about 300,000 tonnes for aganwadis, the official said. In the next fiscal year, another 800,000 tonnes of pulses will be disposed of from the buffer stock, the official said, adding this would ease the burden. For the first time, the government had last year decided to create a buffer stock of pulses to ensure better prices to farmers and at the same time use the stock to augment local supply in times of price rise. About 2 million tonnes of buffer was created through local procurement and imports.