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Govt agencies to buy pulses directly from farmers

New Delhi : The government today directed procurement agencies, including NAFED, to buy tur, urad and moong directly from farmers in all producing states for creating buffer stock to supply lentils at cheaper rates and ensuring support price for growers.

Cabinet Secretary PK Sinha today held a meeting to review the prices and availability of essential commodities, mainly pulses, and directed all the ministeries concerned to strengthen monitoring mechanism and ensure availability of these items at reasonable prices during festival season.

“The government agencies have been directed to expand procurement of pulses directly from the farmers in all pulses producing states,” an official statement said.

Besides NAFED, the SFAC (Small Farmers’ Agribusiness Consortium) and the Food Corporation of India (FCI) are also undertaking pulses procurement.

The agencies have already started procurement of moong in Karnataka and Maharashtra and would soon expand to other states depending upon arrivals. They have been directed to take up urad procurement from September 15 and tur immediately after arrival of the crop.

Moong procurement was undertaken as its prices had fallen below the minimum support price (MSP) at some places.

“All the concern Ministries and Departments have also been directed to strengthen monitoring mechanism to ensure availability of these commodities at reasonable prices during the coming festival season,” the statement said.

The meeting was attended by the secretaries of consumer affairs department, food department, revenue department, commerce ministry and by senior officials of related ministries.
India’s pulses production fell to 16.47 million tonnes in the 2015-16 crop year (July-June) from 17.15 million tonnes in the previous year. Pulses output had been low in the last two crop years due to drought, resulting in spike of retail rates.

However, pulses production is expected to rise at 20 million tonnes in 2016-17 as farmers have grown pulses in larger area this year following good monsoon, high market prices and sharp increase in the minimum support price (MSP).

The Centre has decided to create buffer stock of 2 million tonnes of pulses through imports and domestic purchases for making market intervention and supply at reasonable rates.

At present, the retail prices are ruling in a range of Rs 115-170 per kg even as the wholesale rates have fallen. The government is expecting retail prices to ease soon.

Last week, Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan had said the wholesale prices of pulses were gradually falling and its impact would be reflected soon in retail markets as hoarders would not be able to hold their stocks for long with arrival of new crop.