Food Ministry schedules meeting with states to strategize rice procurement plans.
After failing to procure even 50% of wheat during the rabi marketing season this year, the Food Ministry is taking every preparation for the upcoming Kharif marketing season in order to procure rice for the Central Pool. It expects the States to tell how much rice it can get during a meeting on August 30.
The meeting for this year’s rice procurement plan is significant in light of an 8% decline in paddy acreage from a year ago, as well as crop damage caused by floods in numerous parts of the country.
According to an official source, states’ food secretaries have been instructed to provide a realistic estimate because the Centre cannot afford to repeat what happened in the case of wheat due to inventories lowering in the Central Pool.
However, officials in other states stated that the market price of paddy is very important since farmers would choose to sell in mandis if they could earn better rates.
The minimum support price for paddy has been set at ₹2,040 per quintal for the 2022-23 crop year (July-June), a 5.15% increase over last year’s price of ₹1,940. According to the Agmarknet webpage, the current all-India average mandi price is ₹1,775 (August 1-24), down from₹ 1,832/quintal in July.
Rice prices (monthly average) remained steady in different locations in July and August, ranging between ₹32 and ₹47/kg, according to Consumer Affairs Ministry data.
Stocks holding FCI
Rice inventories at the Food Corporation of India (FCI) fell to 27.95 million tonnes (mt) on August 1 from 29.1 mt the previous year. As of July 1, stocks stood at 31.7 mt. Unmilled paddy stocks fell to 19.46 mt on August 1 from 22.91 mt the previous year.
A State government official stated that there will be no problems with rice procurement in Punjab and that the objective will be finalized soon. It will almost certainly be on par with the prior year. Punjab contributed 12.55 million tonnes (the same amount as its aim) of rice to the Central Pool in 2021-22 (October-September season), accounting for 21% of the total purchase of 59.13 million tonnes so far.
According to the official, when all other states failed, Punjab contributed 51% of the almost 19 mt of wheat procured from across the country this year, although the aim was 44.4 mt. The wheat procurement in Punjab was 9.65 million tonnes against a target of 13.2 million tonnes, while the buy in Madhya Pradesh was 4.6 million tonnes against a target of 12.9 million tonnes.
Paddy sowing has improved in the last week, with the addition of around 34 lh minimizing the shortfall in its acreage. Overall, paddy acreage is down 8% to 343.70 lh as of August 18 from 374.63 lh a year ago, while planting area is down 12% to 309.79 lh as of August 12, according to Agriculture Ministry data.
The government had previously set this season’s paddy area target at 413.13 lh, which is expected to be missed with all major growers reporting reduced acreage.