Procurement of wheat and paddy in quantity and value terms has risen significantly in the last eight years, on account of a hike in the minimum support price (MSP) and purchases made from more states, a senior food ministry official said on Tuesday.
The number of farmers covered under the MSP operations has also increased because of the higher quantity of wheat and paddy procurement by the Food Corporation of India (FCI), the nodal agency for the procurement and distribution of foodgrains.
"The central procurement of wheat and paddy has increased substantially between the 2013-14 and 2021-22 marketing seasons. The procurement has become broad-based and we are purchasing grains from more states now. MSP has increased significantly," said Subodh Singh, additional secretary in the food ministry.
The procurement is taking place in Himachal Pradesh, Assam and Tripura, he said, adding that the FCI has started buying paddy from Rajasthan.
Production of wheat and paddy has also risen since 2013-14.
In the case of wheat, the procurement increased to 433.44 lakh tonnes in 2021-22 from 250.72 lakh tonnes in 2013-14. The value of wheat procured has increased to Rs 85,604 crore from Rs 33,847 crore.
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Singh highlighted that 49.2 lakh farmers growing wheat were benefitted in 2021-22 against 20.47 lakh farmers in 2016-17. The data on the number of farmers who benefitted prior to 2016-17 is not available.
The MSP of wheat has been increased by 57 per cent to Rs 2,125 per quintal from Rs 1,350 per quintal in 2013-14.
In the case of paddy, the MSP increased by around 53 per cent to Rs 2,060 per quintal compared to Rs 1,345 per quintal in 2013-14.
The procurement of paddy has increased to 857 lakh tonnes in the 2021-22 marketing year (October-September) from 475.30 lakh tonnes in 2013-14. The MSP value paid to paddy farmers stood at nearly Rs 1.7 lakh crore during the 2021-22 marketing year from around Rs 64,000 crore.
More than 125 lakh paddy farmers were covered under the MSP operations in 2021-22 against 73 lakhs in 2015-16.
Besides wheat and paddy, Singh said the Centre has asked states to procure coarse cereals and also distribute grains and assured it will bear the cost.
Nine states are currently buying coarse cereals -- Haryana, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Tamil Nadu, he said, adding that maize, bajra, jowar and ragi are being bought at the MSP.
Procurement of coarse cereals is expected to rise to around 9.5 lakh tonnes in 2022-23 from around 6.5 lakh tonnes in the previous year, Singh said, adding that the Karnataka government will buy around 5 lakh tonnes of ragi.
The additional secretary said the ministry is also working on a concept note to explore the possibility of fixing the benchmark price of minor millets.
Talking about Rajasthan, Singh said the procurement of wheat in the state stood at 23.4 lakh tonnes in 2021-22 from 12.69 lakh tonnes in 2013-14.
The paddy procurement in Rajasthan has started after more than a decade.
Singh said the ministry and the FCI have requested the Rajasthan government to shift to DCP (decentralised) mode for procurement of foodgrains.
Under the DCP system, the state government/ its agencies procure, store and distribute (against the Government of India's allocation for TPDS and OWS etc) within the state. The excess stocks procured by the state /its agencies are handed over to FCI in Central Pool.
The expenditure incurred by the state government on procurement, storage and distribution of DCP stocks are reimbursed by the central government on the laid down principles.
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