Storage capacity to be expanded in the northern State by March
Paddy procurement in Punjab is expected to exceed a record 13 million tonnes (mt) during the current marketing season (October 2012-September 2013) on higher arrivals.
“We expect to procure about one million tonnes more than last year,” A.S. Arunachalam, Deputy General Manager, Food Corporation of India, told reporters.
So far, Government agencies have procured 12.7 mt, some 7 per cent more than last year’s 11.9 mt through some 1,770 mandis and procurement centres across the State.
Despite deficient monsoon, farmers in Punjab planted paddy on 28 lakh hectares this year.
Paddy procurement, which started mid-October, has entered the last phase in Punjab and is expected to last another week. Punjab contributes to around 30 per cent of the rice procured by the Government for the Central pool.
In neighbouring Haryana, the procurement by State-agencies is almost complete. State agencies have procured about 3.75 mt by November 15 – 30 per cent more than 2.87 mt in corresponding last year, according to Food Ministry data.
Arunachalam expects the total storage capacity in Punjab to expand by an additional 5 million tonnes by end of March, in time before the wheat procurement season.
Bulk of this capacity expansion will happen under the Private Entrepreneurs Guarantee (PEG) scheme for which tenders have been floated. Besides, silos with a storage capacity of 4 lakh tonnes are proposed to be set up in Punjab for which tenders will be finalised by December-end, he said.
The present storage capacity in Punjab is 20.5 mt, of which 19.7 mt is under use to store rice, wheat and paddy.
As on November 1, rice stocks in Punjab were estimated at 5.5 mt, while wheat stocks stood at 13.6 mt.
The State is also having a stock of 6 lakh tonnes of paddy, Arunachalam said.
Total paddy procurement across the country stood at 16.24 mt as of November 15 – a 10.5 per cent growth over corresponding period a year ago.
In terms of rice, the procurement has crossed 10.9 mt ( 9.9 mt) .
(The correspondent's visit was sponsored by FCI).