The Centre is confident of meeting the procurement target of 518 lakh tonne (lt) from kharif-grown rice this year, though it says procurement in Uttar Pradesh, the largest rice grower in the kharif season, could be lower.

Rice procurement in the ongoing season, which began on October 1, has increased by 14.5 per cent to 38.7 lakh tonnes (lt) in the first 16 days against 33.8 lt a year ago, according to the latest data released by the Food Ministry. While Haryana has recorded a 26.5 per cent rise at 20.5 lt from 16.2 lt a year ago, Punjab reported a fall of 17.8 per cent to 14.3 lt from 17.4 lt. Tamil Nadu has procured 3.7 lt against none last year as it was allowed to start procurement a month earlier than usual.

“It is expected that procurement of paddy in the 2022-23 season across the country will be normal, except for Uttar Pradesh,” Food Secretary Sudhanshu Pandey said Monday.

Stocks down

The government had initially fixed a target to buy 40 lt out of an estimated production of 124.8 lt in Uttar Pradesh. Last year, the Centre had bought 43.91 lt of rice from UP.

Procurement of rice during the current kharif marketing season is crucial for the Centre as its stocks, including that of unmilled paddy, have dropped to a 3-year low. Efforts are on to procure more after wheat procurement dropped sharply to 178 lt this year against 434.3 lt last year.