To clear stocks, govt gives states dis­count on pulses

Hindustan Times (Lucknow) - - Nation - Zia Haq

NEW DELHI: In a one-off move, the Cen­tre is of­fer­ing states nearly 3.4 mil­lion tonnes of pulses at a deep dis­count to pare its own bal­loon­ing re­serves, fol­low­ing record pro­cure­ment dur­ing 2017-18, to calm farm­ers roiled by low prices. Given fixed stor­age space, the gov­ern­ment needs to clear stocks to make way for fresh sum­mer har­vests that are be­ing pro­cured by its agen­cies.

Agri­cul­ture min­is­ter Radha Mo­han Singh has writ­ten let­ters to all chief min­is­ters, of­fer­ing them cen­trally stocked pulses at a heavy dis­count of ~15 a kg to pre­vail­ing whole­sale prices (which are any­way low) in their re­spec­tive states.

Th­ese could then be dis­trib­uted in nu­tri­tion-based wel­fare pro­grammes such as school meals, he wrote.

This dis­count will also en­able states to pro­vide con­sumer packs of pulses at a rate that is likely to be 50% lower than re­tail rates, the min­is­ter said.

Pro­cure­ment refers to the gov­ern­ment’s buy­ing and stock­ing of farm pro­duce at fed­er­ally fixed min­i­mum sup­port prices (MSPs) to soak up sur­pluses and help raise mar­ket prices for farm­ers. For pulses and oilseeds, pro­cure­ment is done un­der the price sup­port scheme.

Prices of pulses in 2017-18 plunged fol­low­ing record pro­duc­tion of 24.5 mil­lion tonnes. “I am glad to in­form you that this is an at­trac­tive scheme to pro­vide pulses to the tar­geted ben­e­fi­cia­ries of the wel­fare schemes at a very low and af­ford­able price by gov­ern­ment,” Singh stated in a let­ter dated Oc­to­ber 26, a copy of which was seen by HT. The cur­rent of­fer pro­poses to clear stocks worth ~5,237 crore, ac­cord­ing to a Cab­i­net note re­lated to the sale scheme.

“Fur­ther, this would help in va­ca­tion of ware­houses of the states, where pro­cure­ment may be re­quired since kharif pulses are rul­ing be­low the MSP,” the let­ter said. The Cen­tre bought a record ~29,070 crore worth of 6.34 mil­lion tonnes of sum­mer pulses and oilseeds from farm­ers in the 2017-18 crop sea­son (un­til June 30).

The dis­counted sale is way be­low what it cost the Cen­tre to buy the stock in the first place.

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