India’s rice procurement, through the Food Corporation of India (FCI), in the two-and-half months since the season began on October 1 dropped 12.7 per cent to 243.85 lakh tonnes (lt) from 279.38 lt in the year-ago period. However, government is confident of recovering the deficit in the next few months.

According to latest data, the procurement has been completed in Punjab and Haryana and is at par with target. The FCI has been able to manage to buy 124.08 lt in Punjab, which is 2 per cent higher from last year, and 39.42 lt in Haryana, which is a tad lower from 39.5 lt in 2022. The target in Punjab was 122 lt and in Haryana 40 lt.

52.13 million tonnes target

“With the level of procurement we are doing, our requirement will definitely be met. We also have extra quantity available over and above the quantity required under all the schemes put together,” FCI’s Chairman and Managing Director Ashok Meena said last week. The target in Punjab has been exceeded, while it is nearly achieved in Haryana, Meena said.

The government has set a target to purchase 521.27 lt (52.13 million tonnes) of rice from kharif-grown crop in 2023-24 season (October-September). The Agriculture Ministry has estimated the kharif rice production lower by 4 per cent at 106.31 million tonnes (mt) in the current kharif season from 110.51 mt a year ago. Meena said the total purchases from both kharif and rabi season may be about 550 lt in 2023-24 against 569.47 lt in 2022-23.

He attributed the overall fall in this year’s rice procurement on elections in Chhattisgarh and Telangana and hoped that it will be covered up in the next few weeks as polls are now over.

The rice procurement in Chhattisgarh has been reported at 21.33 lt until December 15, which is 40 per cent lower from 35.47 lt year-ago. Similarly, in Telangana the rice purchase dipped 23 per cent to 23.83 lt from 31.08 lt.

Buys in Chhattisgarh to pick up

Concerned over prise rise of rice, the government last week raised the maximum quantity limit to 2,000 tonnes from 1,000 tonnes per bidder in each auction and also reduced the minimum quantity to 1 tonne from 10 tonne under the OMSS for rice. It hopes to increase the offtake of rice as only 1.19 lt could be sold since June whereas 48.12 lt of wheat has been sold in the same period.

Rice procurement in Odisha and Andhra Pradesh has also been sluggish reporting a fall of 39 per cent and 56 per cent, respectively. The FCI is able to buy 2.4 lt in Odisha and 2.96 lt in Andhra Pradesh so far this year. Exporters are reported to be very active in these two States after BJP, Congress promised to pay ₹3,100-3,200/quintal during the poll campaign in Chhattisgarh.

“Farmers are expecting to get ₹3,100/quintal for their paddy whereas FCI is currently paying the MSP, which is ₹2,203/quintal (grade A variety),” said a State government official adding once a policy is announced, purchase may pick up as farmers are holding onto the crop.

The official purchase in Uttar Pradesh has been recorded at 13.73 lt, down 12 per cent from 15.63 lt year-ago. So far, the procurement in the eastern region of the state at 6.93 lt is higher from 6.92 lt year-ago, whereas there is 22 per cent dip in western region at 6.81 lt against 8.71 lt year-ago.

Rice procurement in Tamil Nadu has been nearly constant at 3.7 lt for past one month and is lower by 36 per cent against 5.81 lt in the year-ago period. But West Bengal has reported a surge, due to early harvest, as procurement has reached 1.07 lt so far against only 3,043 tonnes year-ago.