After a big success during the earlier kharif season, government agencies have failed in pulses
procurement in the ongoing rabi marketing season, missing their target by 86 per cent.
Data compiled by the government-owned grain procurement agency, Food Corporation of India
(FCI), showed that the only nominated agency, National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India (Nafed), procured only 19,779 tonnes of masur
(red gram) as on July 3, against the target of 100,000 tonnes. And, 51,059 tonnes of chana
(Bengal gram), against the procurement target of 400,000 tonnes. Respectively, 19.8 per cent and 12.8 per cent of the rabi marketing target.
Worried, the food ministry has extended the MSP (minimum support price) operation by three weeks for pulses.
“The government has set a buffer limit of two million tonnes for both kharif and rabi seasons, which is almost achieved. So, the ministry initially set the procurement target of 500,000 tonnes, later reduced to 400,000 tonnes. We were advised to go slow on pulses
procurement for rabi, as farmers in Maharashtra, Gujarat and Karnataka continue to bring kharif tur (red gram) to mandis even after closure of the season. The government directed state agencies to procure more tur, resulting in a slowdown in chana
procurement. Since the government has extended procurement time by three weeks, we have time to procure more,” said Sanjeev Chadha, managing director of Nafed.
Earlier, the ministry had asked Nafed, FCI
and the Small Farmers’ Agribusiness Consortium, all government owned, to purchase kharif pulses
at the MSP. The three procured 1.47 mn tonnes, about 55 per cent more than the target of 950,000 tonnes fixed by the government. Nafed
itself procured 67 per cent more than the target of 665,000 tonnes of the three leading pulses
– moong, urad and tur.
A senior FCI
official attributed the low procurement figure to the prevailing prices of these pulses
in spot mandis. “Chana
is selling currently at above the MSP. So, why will any chana
farmer sell their produce to the government agency for less? But, masur
is quoted at below the MSP. So, perhaps Nafed
is slow in buying,” said the official. “FCI
is not involved in procurement of rabi pulses.
The ministry is directly looking after pulses
procurement,” said Rajat Sharma, deputy general manager (procurement), FCI.
Price is a factor which prompted farmers to hold on to their produce.
“We calibrated the procurement for pulses
that are quoted above MSP. Since the Cabinet had given us a mandate to create a buffer of two mn tonnes, which we almost achieved; our target for rabi was reduced again to 200,000 tonnes. Also, farmers are bringing lower quantity of pulses
to mandis in anticipation of price rise in the future,” said Chadha.
Faced with a sharp increase in the prices of pulses
two years earlier, the government started procurement for direct intervention in case of a re-occurrence of this.