Overall purchases of paddy in the country reached 699.48 lakh tonnes (lt) as of February 21, as against 658.13 lt a year ago, official data show. The target for this kharif season is 528.26 lt in terms of rice (paddy equivalent 788.45 lt). The current procurement is 469.43 lt in terms of rice.

The government has set a target to procure 774.85 lt of paddy from kharif-grown crop. While procurement is already over in Bihar, Telangana, Chhattisgarh, Punjab, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh, among major States, it will end by March 31 in Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Tamil Nadu. The official purchase will be completed by this month in Uttar Pradesh, the second biggest grower of rice while it will continue until June 30 in West Bengal, the largest grower.

About 94.90 lakh farmers have been benefitted so far, from the ongoing procurement operations for which the Centre has already spent ₹1,37,098.07 crore at MSP value of ₹1,960 per quintal, which is the purchase price of paddy.

Target exceeded

Telangana, where procurement began late due to the stand-off between the State and the Centre on parboiled rice issue, has seen purchases exceeding target by 1.56 lt at 70.22 lakh tonnes while it has been stopped after reaching the target of 92.01 lt in Chhattisgarh. These two States have emerged as major rice contributors to the Central Pool and may replace Punjab and Haryana as alternative sources if the government decides to move away from the northern States due to depleting groundwater level.

In Uttar Pradesh, the paddy procurement has dropped by 2 lt at 64.11, and just 6 lt short of target. In Haryana it is short by 4.4 lt at 55.30 lt while in Punjab it has exceeded by nearly 19 lt from target at 187.51 lt.