Paddy procurement (Punjab): Pungrain tops charts, FCI likely to miss purchase target again

With paddy harvesting and procurement in Punjab in its last leg, the state agency Pungrain has procured nearly 40% (70.5 lakh metric tonnes) of the grain that has arrived in the grain markets, while the central agency, Food Corporation of India (FCI), has hit its lowest numbers purchasing only 0.21% (37,366 tonnes).

Pungrain has a target of purchasing 30% of the crop, while FCI has a target of 5%.

Against its allocated target for this kharif season, the FCI, which drives public distribution system (PDS) across the country, has procured meagre 37,366 tonnes of paddy.

Last year, the central agency procured 1.93 lakh metric tonne (LMT) (.94%) of paddy, while in 2021, it purchased 52,800 metric tonnes directly from the purchasing centres.

Till November 16, 174 LMT of non-basmati varieties (parmal) produce was brought to grain markets from across the state, of which 171.1 LMT has been procured by the state agencies, while nearly 3.78 LMT was yet to be purchased.

Of total purchase, the state procuring agencies, including Pungrain has procured 70.5 LMT (40%), Markfed 43.63 LMT (25%), Punsup 36.3 LMT (21%), Punjab warehouse 19.6 LMT (12%) and private players purchased 58,383 tonnes (.34%) LMT of the paddy produce to date.

Meanwhile, 16 LMT of basmati varieties have been procured largely by private players.

The state agriculture department has estimated 182 LMT of paddy yield (both non-basmati and basmati varieties) this year from 31.93 hectares of area under cultivation in Punjab this season.

A senior FCI official said the central agency’s process of procuring grains is different from that of the state procurement agencies.

“FCI only purchases paddy from a few purchasing centres allotted to them every season. We have our own storage process rather than storing paddy in private mills to avoid losses and litigation. Therefore, we only procure paddy from purchasing centres located near our godowns. This year, we had purchased paddy directly from nearly 125 purchasing centres in 10 districts of Punjab,” the official said.

FCI regional general manager (Punjab) B Srinivasan said grains are procured by state government agencies for the central Pool as per the direction issued by the government of India.

Srinivasan said there is a lot of logistics involved in direct purchase of paddy, and FCI usually makes only 1-2% direct purchase due to logistic reasons.

“Our prime focus is to procure rice from the state procurement agencies after milling under the central pool system,” Srinivasan added.

An official said the four state agencies — Pungrain, Punsup, Markfed and the Punjab State Warehouse Corporation — procure paddy from the state farmers for central pool, and hand it over to the FCI after milling, for which state is paid in advance in the form of cash credit limit (CCL).

Agency Total procured till Nov 16

Pungrain 70.50 LMT

Markfed 43.63 LMT

Punsup 36.3 LMT

Punjab Warehouse 19.6 LMT

FCI 37,366 tonnes

Private players 58,383 tonnes

This article has been republished from The Hindustan Times

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