Cen­tre of­fers states pulses on dis­count

Step taken to clear out old stock and make way for fresh sum­mer har­vest af­ter record pro­cure­ment in 2017­18

Hindustan Times (Ranchi) - - Nation - Zia Haq zia.haq@htlive.com ■

NEWDELHI: In a one-off move, the cen­tral govern­ment is of­fer­ing states nearly 3.4 mil­lion tonne 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 so-called price sup­port scheme.

Prices of pulses in 2017-18 plunged fol­low­ing record pro­duc­tion of 24.5 mil­lion tonne.

“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 of In­dia,” Singh wrote 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 stated.

The cen­tral govern­ment bought a record ~29,070 crore worth of 6.34 mil­lion tonne sum­mer pulses and oilseeds from farm­ers in the 2017-18 crop sea­son (un­til June 30).

Over­all, be­tween 2014 and Au­gust 2018 — or the present govern­ment’s ten­ure so far — the to­tal pro­cure­ment was 7.5 mil­lion tonnes, com­pared to 0.84 mil­lion tonnes be­tween 2010-11 and 2013-14 un­der the pre­vi­ous govern­ment.

This spike sug­gests the govern­ment’s in­ter­ven­tion in­creased due to farm dis­tress.

To free-up stor­age and re­serves, 3.4 mil­lion tonnes of five va­ri­eties of pulses (known as tur, moong, urad, chana and ma­soor), are “avail­able for util­i­sa­tion by states” on a first-come­first-serve ba­sis, ac­cord­ing to guide­lines of the of­fer.

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

“This is the other di­men­sion of MSP op­er­a­tions. The Cen­tre has to even­tu­ally in­cur losses to dis­pose of stocks,” said Sachin Kaul of Com­trade, a com­modi­ties trad­ing plat­form.

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 of In­dia. RADHA MO­HAN SINGH, Agri­cul­ture min­is­ter

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