The committee of secretaries has approved removal of quantitative limit on procurement of tur (pigeon peas), urad (black gram) and masur (lentil) under Price Support Scheme (PSS) for 2023-24, which may signal farmers to expand the area and increase production. “In order to boost domestic production, the government is removing ceiling for procurement of tur, urad and masur under PSS for 2023-24 and farmers are free to sell any amount of their produce this year,” the Consumer Affairs Ministry said in a release. The decision is expected to increase the sowing area of tur and urad during current kharif and of masur in rabi season, it added.

Govt concerned

The Agriculture Ministry, which manages the PSS scheme, had moved the proposal before the committee of secretaries, headed by the Cabinet Secretary, sources said. The government is very concerned about production of pulses as any decline may inflate prices, the sources said.

Under PSS, the government buys a maximum 25 per cent of production of pulses and oilseeds from farmers at their minimum support prices (MSPs) when mandi rates fall below these benchmark prices. However, if States request, the ceiling is enhanced to 40 per cent.

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The Centre last week imposed stock limit until October 31 for tur dal and urad dal, specifying wholesalers, retailers, big chain retailers, millers, and importers not to keep these pulses more than the specified limit.

Stock limits applicable to each pulse individually will be 200 tonnes for wholesalers, 5 tonnes for retailers, 5 tonnes at each retail outlet and 200 tonnes at the depot for big chain retailers. In the case of millers, the limit would be the last three months of production or 25 per cent of annual installed capacity, whichever is higher, for the millers. Importers are told not to hold imported stock beyond 30 days from the date of Customs clearance.

The Consumer Affairs Ministry had said, “In order to prevent hoarding and unscrupulous speculation and also to improve affordability to the consumers in respect of tur dal and urad dal, the Indian government has issued the order.”

In a follow-up action to the stock limits imposed on tur and urad, the Department of Consumer Affairs has directed the State governments to ensure strict enforcement of the limits. As part of enforcement, the States have also been asked to monitor prices and the stocks position by verifying with various warehouse operators. Parallelly, the Department has also asked Central Warehousing Corporation (CWC) and State Warehousing Corporations (SWCs) to provide the details pertaining to tur and urad held in their warehouses.