New Delhi: Central agencies have procured nearly 70% of the targeted 50,000 tonnes of pulses in the ongoing kharif (summer crop) marketing season in a move to stabilize prices and ensure support prices for farmers.
The central government has procured 34,547 tonnes of moong (green gram) and urad (black gram) for buffer stocks so far, the food ministry said in a statement on Wednesday. Central agencies are procuring rain-fed kharif pulses from farmers to ensure minimum support prices for their crops in pulse growing states, it said.
The step-up in procurement follows the centre’s decision last month to create a buffer stock of 2 million tonnes, or about 10% of the country’s production, to prevent price spikes and ensure availability in the future.
Further, wholesale prices of moong fell below the government’s support prices in September in major producing states like Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh.
The food ministry said three central agencies—Food Corporation of India (FCI), National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India (Nafed) and the Small Farmers’ Agribusiness Consortium (SFAC)—are procuring pulses. Since the arrival of kharif pulses, FCI has procured 8,167 tonnes, while Nafed and SFAC have procured 23,510 tonnes and 2,870 tonnes, respectively.
According to the first advance estimates released by the agriculture ministry last month, the production of rain-fed kharif pulses is set to rise by 57% to 8.7 million tonnes in 2016-17 from 5.5 million tonnes last year.
Farmers in major pulse-growing states increased planting area by 37% this year, boosted by ample rains and higher retail prices over the past year. The centre has set a target of producing a record 21 million tonnes of pulses in 2016-17.
Consecutive years of droughts resulted in a drop in domestic production to 16.5 million tonnes in 2015-16, from a high of 19.25 million tonnes in 2013-14, leading to a surge in imports to a record 5.8 million tonnes during the year.