Crunching numbers. Rice procurement in Haryana climbs to 38 lakh tonnes …

Crunching numbers. Rice procurement in Haryana climbs to 38 lakh tonnes exceeding State’s target

What is intriguing is where the rice has actually come from as basmati, having a 50% share in output, is not purchased at MSP

Haryana’s production of rice in the current Kharif season has been estimated at 47.54 lt (including basmati) by the Union Agriculture Ministry (File Photo/REUTERS)

Rice procurement in the largest rice-producing State of Haryana in the ongoing season has reached 38.6 lakh tonnes (lt) as of November 10, exceeding the State’s own target of 37 lt.

The State’s production of rice in the current Kharif season has been estimated at 47.54 lt (including basmati) by the Union Agriculture Ministry.

What is intriguing is where the rice has actually come from as basmati, having a 50 per cent share in output, is not purchased at MSP.

Given that farmers do not sell basmati and other premium varieties to the Food Corporation of India (FCI) at a minimum support price of ₹2,040/quintal when they’re fetching a price of ₹3,000 in the mandis, these figures would mean that production of basmati and other premium non-basmati varieties is just 9 lt.

But as per a crop survey of the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), basmati rice production (including 1-2 premium non-basmati varieties) in Haryana is likely to be 29.32 lt this year, though some exporters have said that it could be even more at 31.2 lt.

Procurement data

If this data is to be believed, it leaves a scope of maximum (at 100 per cent of output) 18.22 lt for FCI procurement, which is less than half of the actual volume already bought.

“It is not the first time it has happened, the procurement of rice used to be around 60 per cent of the State’s production or even lower until 2014-15 with a one-year exception, but suddenly it jumped to 69 per cent in 2015-16 and around 90 per cent of output in 2019-20,” said an official monitoring the procurement data. “That too output also includes basmati rice,” he added.

Email questions sent to Haryana Chief Minister’s Office in October were not replied and persistent queries from his office subsequently have not yielded any response.

Investigations in other States

In neighbouring Punjab, such anomalies have led to instances of official investigations. The State’s Vigilance Department is probing the issue of higher procurement than the production of both basmati and non-basmati together, which started in 2015-16.

Telangana is another State where the procurement was higher than production from 2019-20 onwards and there was a row between the Centre and State on the rice crop’s production estimate last year. Even the Food Ministry last year had sought the help of the Mahalanobis National Crop Forecast Centre to find out the exact output.

Errors in data?

The arrival data show that mandis in Haryana had received 38.5 lt of non-basmati rice (in terms of rice, not paddy) and 23 lt of basmati rice in 2021-22, whereas the procurement of FCI from the State was 37 lt last year.

The official said, “As Haryana also received paddy from neighbouring States, the arrival data itself points to a small surplus whereas farmers also keep some quantity as seed and for their own consumption.”

He added, “The issue is bigger and there has to be a thorough investigation to know if there are data errors or rice is getting recycled, which was common before roll out of DBT, to pay farmers in their bank accounts.”

Date: 15-Nov-2022
https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/economy/agri-business/rice-procurement-in-haryana-climbs-to-38-lakh-tonnes-exceeding-states-target/article66139151.ece