Foodgrains and their management: India
Oxford Dictionaries allow spelling foodgrain as a single word. Most others, including Merriam-Webster and Collins English Dictionary spell it as two words, food grain.
This is a collection of newspaper articles selected for the excellence of their content.
Area/ acreage sown
See graphic Area sown under kharif and rabi, paddy- wheat in 2021, 2022
Crop acreage when monsoon deficit grows to 7 per cent, 2022, 2023
New Delhi: Backed by higher acreage of water-guzzling paddy, the overall sown area of kharif (summer sown) crops crossed the ‘normal’ acreage (average of past five years) figure for the first time this sowing season even as the country has so far recorded a cumulative monsoon rainfall deficit of 9%.
Though acreage of pulses and oilseeds remains a worry, reporting 5% and 1% less sown area, respectively, this year compared to the corresponding period of 2022, farmers recorded nearly 3% higher acreage of paddy than last year. It took the overall acreage of kharif crops to 1,095. 4 lakh hectares which is marginally higher than the ‘normal’ acreage of such crops (1,095. 3 lakh hectares). In 2022, the overall acreage was 1,092 lakh hectares even as the year reported good monsoon rainfall.
Higher acreage of paddy at 409 lakh hectares in 2023 (10 lakh hectares higher than the 2022 figure) can be attributed to increasing drought proofing of farming operations where use of groundwater and minor irrigation resources bridges the monsoon rainfall gap.
In such a situation, farmers, however, prefer only those crops such as paddy and sugarcane which can fetch them good returns due to procurement at minimum support price (MSP) and sale at fair and remunerative price (FRP), respectively. Like paddy, sugarcane too requires a lot of water.
1951-2020: The per capita availability and net import/ export of foodgrains and pulses/ lentils/ dal in India.
2014-15: Low offtake
The Times of India, Jul 02 2015
Rlys takes `300cr hit as states cut grain buy
Reluctance of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal to avail subsidized foodgrains from the Food Corporation of India (FCI) has put the railways in a spot. The national transporter is suffering losses of around Rs 90 crore every month as the FCI has drastically cut down loading of foodgrains, sources said.
The substantial cut in loading target is due to the food ministry and FCI's failure to take up the issue with the these states, which have the maximum number of poor and have been the biggest receiver of subsidized foodgrains, said a top government source. He said the loading target was slashed by the FCI without prior information to the railways that led to large number of rakes lying idle.The FCI attributed it to a sudden cut in off-take of foodgrains by the states. A senior official found the food ministry and FCI's indifference to the issue intriguing. “At a time when the FCI has a stock of around 24 million tonnes of wheat procured under re laxed norms and a shorter shelf life of 8 to 10 months, the Centre and FCI must act to transport grains from Punjab and Haryana to consumer states at the earliest,“ he said. “Foodgrain loading of railways is at an all-time low and its wagon capacity is being wasted,“ said an official adding the railways has already lost around Rs 300 crore in three months.
To tame onion prices, govt extends stock limit
The Cabinet extended the stock limit on onion for one year to July 2016 in its bid to curb the rise in the commodity's prices. The validity of the order that empowers states to impose stock limits on traders for holding onion and ban hoarding beyond the set limit expires on Thursday. The decision will enable state governments take effective de-hoarding measures under the Essential Commodities Act. Oly three states Odisha, West Bengal and Telangana have so far fixed the stock limit on potatoes and onions.
2015-16: Output up despite scant rainfall
The Times of India, August 3, 2016
Foodgrain output up despite scant rainfall in 2015-16
Despite deficient rainfall and shortage of water in reservoirs, India's foodgrain production in 2015-16 is estimated to be slightly higher than the total production in 2014-15 -thanks to irrigated areas of northwest India where good wheat production more than made it up. However, pulses remain a major worry as its production reported a decline. In fact, production of most of the crops, including rice, pulses and oilseeds, is estimated to be lower in 2015-16 crop year (July-June) than their production in 2014-15.
The total production still crossed the 2014-15 figures mainly due to higher wheat production, reflecting a degree of resilience of Indian agriculture to a deficit monsoon in the areas having proper irrigation infrastructure.
The agriculture ministry came out with its fourth advance estimates of foodgrain production for 2015-16, showing that the production in the year stand at 252.22 million tonnes as compared to 252.02 million tonnes (MT) in 2014-15 that was also the drought year. Though the deficiency in Mon soon rainfall in 2015 was higher than the deficiency in 2014, the year 2015-16 managed to cross the previous year's production mark due to timely contingency measures during Rabi (winter crop) season that resulted in higher production of wheat.
The production of wheat, estimated at 93.50 MT in 2015-16, is higher by 6.97 MT than the production of 86.53 MT during 2014-15.
On the other hand, the production of pulses in 2015-16 (16.47 MT) is estimated to be slightly lower than its production in 2014-15 (17.15 MT) -a cause of concern as India has to depend heavily on import to meet its domestic demand.
Since pulses are mainly sown in rain-fed areas, decline in its production is attributed to deficit rainfall in 2015 when as many as 11states were drought-hit. Nearly all major pulse growing states such as Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka had faced severe drought.
The overall production in both the years was, however, way below the 2013-14 mark when the country had achieved a record foodgrain production of 265.04 million tonnes.
2012-17: foodgrain and oilseeds
2016-17, grain output-276 mn tns
India's foodgrain production for the 2016-17 crop year is estimated at a record 275.7 million tons, a number which is expected to bring cheer to policymakers and bolster claim of efficient rollout of policies for the farm sector.
The government on Wednesday revised its previous figures upward by 2.3 million tons and the new figure is 4% higher than the previous record production achieved in 2013-14. The production in 2016-17 is significantly higher by 24.1million tons (9.59%) than the output of 2015-16 which was a drought year.
The revised figures, released on Wednesday , are part of the agriculture ministry's fourth advance estimate for the year 2016-17. In its third estimate, the ministry had put the estimated production at 273.38 million tons (MT). The ministry releases four advance estimates followed by final estimates of production of major agricultural crops every year (July-June). The fourth advance estimates are considered as good as the final estimates.
In order to provide sufficient time to states to take into account even the delayed information while finalizing area and yield estimates of various crops, the final estimates are released about six months after the fourth advance estimates.No revision in the state-level data is accepted after release of final estimates by the agriculture ministry .
India had recorded its previous best in the year 2013-14 when it produced 265.04 million tons of foodgrain, backed by good and well-distributed Monsoon rainfall.The ministry attributed the all-time record of foodgrain production in 2016-17 to good rainfall in 2016 and various policy initiatives taken by it.Record output has been achieved in all major crops of foodgrain basket like rice (110.15 MT), wheat (98.38 MT) and pulses (22.95 MT). The current crop year (2017-18) may , however, not be as good despite normal Monsoon in many parts of the country .
2017-18, grain output-277 mn tonnes
Output Of Pulses & Rice Touching A New High
India’s overall foodgrain production may touch a record of 277 million tonnes in the 2017-18 crop year (July-June) with output of pulses and rice reporting a new high. The agriculture ministry released its latest estimates, just when the government has been exploring various options of procuring more and more foodgrains from farmers in the year of plenty.
Option of extending the government’s guarantee to banks and lending agencies to ensure that state agencies do not face fund crunch for procurement is likely to come up before the Union Cabinet for approval on Wednesday. The move will help states go for procurement of pulses, oilseeds and cotton under the Price Support Scheme (PSS) through central nodal agencies and the other crops by state agencies at the Minimum Support Price without worrying about paucity of funds.
The basic objectives of PSS are to provide remunerative prices to the growers with a view to encourage higher investment and production and safeguard interests of consumers by making available supplies at reasonable prices.
Though the year is expected to report decline in production of wheat and oilseeds as compared to previous year (2016-17), the latest estimates gave a new hope amid reports of good sowing of winter crops (Rabi), except wheat, in months of December-January.
The agriculture ministry, while releasing the second advance estimates of foodgrain production, attributed the record output in 2017-18 to “near normal rainfall during 2017 monsoon and various policy initiatives taken by the government”.
The ministry said that the assessment of production of different crops was “based on the feedback received from states”. It claimed that the assessment was also “validated with information available from other sources”.
The ministry releases four advance estimates, before the final one which gives details of foodgrain output.
The second estimates, released after completion of the Rabi sowing operations across the country, show that the production of wheat is likely to drop by 1% to estimated 97 MT. It is lower by 1 MT as compared to record wheat production of 98.51 MT achieved during 2016-17.
Revised figure 280MT
The government has projected a record output in its third advance estimate of the country’s foodgrain production for the crop year (July-June) 2017-18 released on Wednesday, while revising the total output figure for the year from 277.49 million tonnes (MT) in February to 279.51 MT now.
The revised estimate, which took into account production of both kharif (summer sown) and rabi (winter sown) crops, is over 4 MT more than the previous record output of 275.11 MT in 2016-17. It will make 2017-18 the second year in a row of bumper foodgrain production after the country faced two consecutive years of drought in 2014-15 and 2015-16.
Figures, released by agriculture ministry, show that most of the major crops are expected to scale new records in the current crop year.
“The production figures are quite encouraging. Record output of pulses last year had helped India reduce its import, saving Rs 9,775 crore in foreign exchange. Even export of several agricultural produce picked up during the period, backed by good output and the government’s trade policy measures,” said Union agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh.
He told TOI that the government has been taking several steps to translate the bumper output into getting remunerative prices to farmers. “We are now focussed on income-oriented programmes rather than adopting the production-centric approach,” said Singh.
Since the India Meteorological Department (IMD) predicts normal monsoon for June-September period, the 2018-19 crop year too is expected to be good for the farm sector in terms of production.
10MT more than production in 2016-17
India Produced 10 MT Higher Than In 2016-17
Backed by good monsoon rainfall in 2016-17, India produced a record 284.83 million tonnes of foodgrains in 2017-18 crop year (July-June) which was 9.72 million tonnes (MT) higher than the country’s previous record during 2016-17.
The year 2017-18, witnessed record production of all major crops like rice (112.91 MT), wheat (99.70 MT), coarse cereals (46.99 MT) and pulses (25.23 MT).
The agriculture ministry, which released its fourth estimates of farm production for the year 2017-18 on Tuesday, attributed the record output to “near normal rainfall” during monsoon last year. It revised the total output for the year from 279.51 MT in May to 284.83 MT now. The fourth estimate is considered as good as the final figure.
Ongoing sowing operation of kharif (summer sown) crops shows that though the current year (2018-19) may not match last year’s record, it will continue to be a good year for foodgrain production if one analyses ongoing sowing operations, present acreage and live water storage of major reservoirs across the country.
Acreage figures show that the country’s total sown area under kharif crops as on last Friday was higher than ‘normal’ sown area of corresponding week despite many districts in the country having faced deficit rainfall during the ongoing monsoon season. Records show that nearly 40% of the 718 districts in India have, so far, faced rain deficit in varying degrees.
“The total acreage is higher than the corresponding ‘normal’ sown area. It’s a good sign. Though the acreage is less than the total sown area of last year, the gap is not much. It indicates that the fall in kharif output, if any, may not be much during 2018-19,” said an official.
The total sown area under kharif crops stand at 995.62 lakh hectares as on August 24 as compared to acreage of 1,008.57 lakh hectares at this time last year - only 1.3% less. Officials, however, believe that the gap may be narrowed down further as the deficit states have now started getting rains and it will help in a pick up of sowing operations.
2018-19: Foodgrain output 1% lower
With the country reporting a 9% deficit in monsoon rainfall last year, its impact is expected to be felt on overall foodgrain production in the 2018-19 crop year (June-July) with the agriculture ministry estimating it to be lower by over 1% than the previous year’s output.
The second advance estimates, released by the ministry on Thursday, put the total output of foodgrain at 281.37 million tonnes (MT) in 2018-19 as compared to 284.83 MT in 2017-18.
The final output figure may, however, change as it is the second estimates for the current crop year. Three more estimates will be released for the year. The year 2017-18 reported 284.83 MT of foodgrain output in its fourth estimate which is considered as good as the final figure.
If one compares the second estimates of 2018-19 with the second estimate figures of 2017-18, the production in current year is, however, higher than the last year. The production during 2018-19 may also be higher by 15.63 MT than the previous five years’ (2013-14 to 2017-18) average production of foodgrain.
Analysis of figures, released by the ministry, show that the production of coarse (nutri) cereals —Bajra, Ragi, Jowar and Small Millets —did not pick up this year despite much higher hike in the minimum support price (MSP) of these crops last July.
The ministry estimated the rice production at 115.60 MT this year as compared to 112.91 MT in 2017-18. Similarly, the production of wheat is pegged slightly lower at 99.12 MT from 99.70 MT in the previous year.
The production of coarse cereals may, however, see the biggest dip in its total output. It is estimated to fall at 42.64 MT from 46.99 MT in the previous year. Pulses output, on the other hand, is pegged marginally lower at 24.02 MT this year as compared to 2017-18 when the country reported record production of 25.23 MT.
2019: A surplus of foodgrains
Small mountains of paddy have sprouted all over a vast mandi along the busy highway in Haryana’s Karnal, two hours away from Delhi. Dust mixes readily with an air of resentment among the farmers gathered around. The procurement season is almost over but they are are still carting in their produce for which there are few takers.
Raghubir Singh Lather, a farmer attired in a beige-coloured suit and white shirt, is vocal about his grouse. “I sold paddy below the minimum support price (MSP) because the state government deliberately slowed down procurement,” he said as Pramod Kumar, another farmer, claimed Haryana has had just one day of procurement — October 26 — since the state elections got over.
For their part, mandi officials said they are helpless as they can’t buy paddy when they are still grappling with last season’s wheat. “There is little demand from other states and the older pile of wheat is yet to move. We will run out of space by December, so we are looking to lease warehouses, maybe even some private facilities,” a local Food Corporation of India (FCI) official told TOI.
A string of good harvests has left the procurement machinery creaking under the weight of rice and wheat. Mention of the Green Revolution makes officials wince these days. In Delhi, a senior functionary said, “It’s no longer a green revolution but a grain revolution.” On January 1, India will be holding about 57 million tonnes of rice and wheat against a requirement of 21 MT. An official said that policies framed by the government were intended to lower farmers’ risk, but now “there is no risk. Farmers are behaving like the salaried class — growing something that is bound to be procured by the state.” Availability of cheap power and water, and assured procurement at a price that is higher than the market rate has got farmers in northern states hooked to paddy and rice.
Another downside of the paddywheat cycle is that farmers make little effort to diversify into other crops such as oilseeds and pulses, which India still needs to import.
Experts say continuation of policies meant to make India self-sufficient in foodgrains has caused the glut. “It is the utter failure on the part of the Centre to change policies around procurement,” said Ashok Gulati, Infosys chair professor of agriculture at economic policy think tank ICRIER.
THE WAY OUT
Open-market sale of grains in the coming weeks will ease the burden on warehouses for now, but the problem will worsen with the next crop in April. Despite repeated reminders, the Centre has not decided how it will offload the stock.
Officials say a long-term solution could also come from the states, especially in the north. “The Centre has to get the states on board to find a solution since agriculture is a state subject. It has to be a carrot-and-stick policy,” a senior officer in Delhi said.
Gulati said the Centre should announce only 50% procurement in the over-exploited blocks of Punjab and Haryana, and provide incentives for production of corn, starch and ethanol, and the setting up of feed mills. “It has to be a market-driven system. Punjab and Haryana should not grow any rice variety other than basmati,” he added.
While Haryana claims it has started procuring maize and gram to help farmers diversify, Punjab, by its own admission, has done little to wean farmers off paddy and wheat. Moreover, because of weak finances, it is in no position to launch alternative procurement schemes. Besides, its entire administration — from district magistrates to officers in the secretariat — is geared only to deal with government procurement of wheat and paddy.
For the Centre, the problem is no longer limited to Haryana and Punjab as states like Telangana, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh — traditionally not paddy growers — have had bumper harvests due to improved irrigation. They, too, have stuffed FCI godowns. Between 2014-15 and 2018-19, rice procurement jumped 90% in UP and 73% in MP.
As a short-term fix, the Centre is trying to disperse the stock of grain across the country. Rice-consuming states like Tamil Nadu, Kerala and West Bengal may be given 10 months’ stock instead of the 4-5 months’ stock they currently keep. At best, though, this can only be a temporary arrangement.
2020: MP outstrips Punjab as top wheat procurer
For wheat procurement, it appears to be a year of new records. Punjab, the traditional food bowl, has lost its crown as the top wheat procurer to Madhya Pradesh, where purchase from farmers is nearly 67% higher than its own estimate, reports Sidhartha.
This suggests large-scale government intervention to bail out farmers hit by unseasonal rains and absence of private players, along with diversion of grains from neighbouring states.
So, against the initial estimate of 80 lakh tonnes, the state has so far procured 128 lakh tonnes, a tad higher than Punjab’s 127.1lakh tonnes.
FCI stock to hit 920L tonne by July 1, over twice of the buffer
Officials said apart from MP, another 2-3 lakh tonnes are expected from Rajasthan, which has also surpassed its estimate, while Haryana and UP, which have been below par, will chip in with another 3 lakh tonnes or so.
This means the stock of grains with FCI will be around 960-970 lakh tonnes with 807 lakh tonnes already in godowns and the remaining being in the form of custom mill rice in the pipeline. By July 1, stocks are estimated to be around 920-930 lakh tonnes, more than twice the buffer norm of 412 lakh tonnes. While procurement during the lockdown has come as a welcome support for farmers, there are suggestions that the silos need to be emptied. “I’m happy that the country has procured so much but it is time to rethink and evaluate the existing grain management system so that we do not end up blocking capital by keeping such a large stock,” economist Ashok Gulati said. For MP, it’s been a bounty that even it had not imagined at the start of the season.
2020-21: 308m tonnes
India in 2020-21 produced an all-time high 308 million tonnes of foodgrains, which was 3.7% higher than the output in previous year, the agriculture ministry said.
It noted that all major crops in the foodgrains basket (paddy, wheat, maize and gram) and oilseeds logged record outputs in the crop year. Output of oilseeds recorded an increase of over 9% and output of pulses recorded an increase of over 8%, in sync with the government’s priority to focus on these crops.
Releasing the fourth advance estimates of production of major agricultural crops for 2020-21 (July-June cycle), the ministry said foodgrain production was over 11 million tonnes (MT) higher than the output in 2019-20 and nearly 30 MT higher than the five years’ (2015-16 to 2019-20) average production of foodgrains.
In the output estimation cycle, the fourth estimate is considered close to the final one which may be released in the next couple of months.
Earlier in May, the ministry had estimated foodgrain output of 305 MT through its third estimation. India had produced 297 MT of foodgrains in 2019-20. The higher production can be attributed to good monsoon rains last year when farmers recorded higher acreage despite challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic. “The record foodgrains are being produced due to the tireless hard work of the farmers, skills of the scientists and the agriculture and farmer friendly policies of the government,” said agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar.
As per the fourth estimation, rice production was pegged at 122 MT in 2020-21 as against around 119 MT in the previous year.
2021-22: 316 mt
New Delhi: In what could be a big boost to the overall rural economy in the pandemic-hit year, the agriculture ministry estimated an all-time record foodgrains production of 316 million tonnes in the country during 2021-22 crop year with major crops such as rice, wheat, maize, pulse and gram breaking their respective previous records. Among the crops in the nonfoodgrains basket, outputs of rapeseed, mustard and sugarcane too are estimated at record levels.
The latest estimates released by the ministry shows the foodgrain output in 2021-22 is expected to be six million tonnes (MT) — nearly 2% — more than the overall production of 310MT in the previous year.
Figures show that the production during 2021-22 is higher by over 25MT than the previous five years’ (2016-17 to 2020-21) average production of foodgrains.
The consistent increase in overall output has happened despite challenges due to the Covid-19 pandemic in two consecutive years.
The ministry banked on higher output of kharif (summer sown) crops and record acreage of rabi (winter sown) crops to arrive at its latest estimates.
Wheat compensates for paddy
New Delhi : States that dragged down the overall acreage of kharif (summer sown) crops by sowing less of paddy, the main crop of the season, due to drought conditions have bounced back by reporting higher acreage of the main winter crop, wheat, during the ongoing Rabi season, giving a positive signal for overall output of foodgrains in the 2022-23 crop year. Latest acreage data shows 25% increase in the sown area under wheat as on December 9 this year compared to the corresponding period of 2021. Overall sown area of rabi (winter sown) crops reported nearly 15% higher acreage this year compared to last year with other crops such as pulses, oilseeds and coarse cereals too reporting higher acreage.
Incidentally, states likeUP, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh and Punjab that had reported decline in paddy acreage have reported increase in acreage of wheat — the main rabi crop — which pushed the overall acreage of winter sown crops by 68 lakh hectares more this year compared to corresponding period acreage of last year.
“These states had reported decline in acreage of water-guzzling paddy due to deficient monsoon rains. But now such states could make up for the loss in case of wheat, using groundwater and other irrigation facilities. Wheat does not require water like paddy,” said an official in theagriculture ministry.
Production of kharif foodgrains is expected to decline by nearly 4% with the biggest slide of 6% being recorded in the output of paddy during 2022-23 crop year over 2021-22. First advance estimates of kharif crops, released by the agriculture ministry in September, showed the estimated overall production of foodgrains at nearly 150 million tonnes (MT) in 2022-23 compared to 156 MT in previous year. As far as paddy is concerned, the decline is expected to be around 7 million tonnes in the current crop year (July-June cycle) compared to 2021-22.
“Since wheat contributes substantially to the foodgrain basket, it is expected to make up for the loss which was estimated in the case of paddy. It will be reflected in the second advance estimates of food-grain output for 2022-23,” said the official.
2017-22, The production of wheat and other foodgrains in India
New Delhi : India is likely to produce nearly 324 million tonnes (MT) of foodgrains in the 2022-23 crop year (JulyJune), a new record and higher by around 8 MT (2. 5%) than the output in the previous crop year. The incre ase is mainly backed by the all-time record production of the paddy (131 MT), wheat (112 MT) and pulses (28 MT).
High-priority millets could not match the increased attention with bajra recording only marginal increase whereas jowar and ragireported adecline.
Millets output shows that the farmers continue to prefer paddy (rice) and wheat as current focus of procurement mainly on these two major crops make it an easy choice for them. Overall output of coarse/nutri cereals (53 MT), however, reported an increase in 2022-23 compared to previous year, mainly due to record output of mai ze andbarley. Second advance estimatesof production of major crops, released by the agriculture ministry on Tuesday, showed even record output of certain non-foodgrains including oilseeds and sugarcane. Among oi lseeds, mustard r ecorded an increase of over 7% this year compared to 2021-22.
Attributing the record output of foodgrains and oilseeds to “hard work of farmers, proficiency of scientists and farmer’s friendly policies” of his government, agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar hoped that there would be increase inproduction and use of coarse/nutri cereals in the co ming years. “It is expected that more and more farmers may switch over to millets during upcoming kharif season, beginning June, as many states have lined up with incentives to them during the International Year of Millets 2023 in sync with the government’s efforts to make India a global hub for millets,” said an official in the ministry.
The current assessment of production of different crops is based on the feedback r eceived from states and validated with information available from other sources. “This assessment will undergo further re vision over successive estimates based upon feedback received from the states, alternative sources and other factors,” said the ministry which comes out with four estimates before releasing the final one for a particularcrop year.
2013-23: The production of foodgrains in India
Food grain trade depletes water sources
The world market for food is depleting water sources in large parts of the world quicker than they can naturally be refilled, says a study in the journal Nature. The highlights: See graphic
Procurement by the govt: statistics
By January 2021, grain stock to be 2.7 times more than needed
NEW DELHI: Government figures show that Food Corporation of India procurement has far exceeded the buffer stock limit and by January 1,2021, India will have foodgrain reserves 2.7 times more that what is required, reflecting sustained procurement but also a massive problem of plenty.
Figures show procurement continued even after FCI stocks met the demands of the country’s food security and other welfare schemes. The stock is high despite the government offloading a large quantity of wheat and rice under PM Garib Kalyan Ann Yojna. Even the high offloading during the Covid-19 pandemic to help the poor and migrants could not deplete India’s foodgrain mountain, underlining a robust procurement system as also the costs of pruchase and storage.
Analysis of past data shows that the MSP of paddy increased by 43% in 2020-21 crop year compared to 2013-14, while the support price for wheat recorded an increase of 41% during the period. The hike can be attributed to the Centre’s decision to put the MSP of crops at a minimum 50% over the cost of production which also include imputed cost of family labour.
These figures were also shared with farm unions by agriculture ministry officials during the first two round of talks, explaining how the mechanism will continue to sustain food security in the country without compromising on farmer incomes.
Officials said the increase in MSP and procurement of two major crops —paddy and wheat — reflected the intent of the government to continue it without disruption. Though procurement of pulses and oilseeds has also gained momentum in past two-three years, its extent will depend on the states’ proposals.
Procurement of paddy and wheat too recorded substantial increase during the 2013-14 to 2020-21 period. Though the procurement is mainly concentrated in few states including Punjab, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Telangana and Chhattisgarh, it has more to do with the marketable surplus and robust government-regulated ‘mandi’ system.
“The intentions of the incumbent government regarding MSP and procurement should be better judged from its actions. During the last six years, the current government at the Centre has given three major pushes to the MSP regime,” said Ramesh Chand, member, Niti Aayog, in his working paper on new farm laws and its implication.
These three major pushes include a new benchmark for MSP, which ensures 50% or higher margin on cost; expansion of procurement for ensuring MSP to some other crops such as oilseeds, and a new scheme to extend financial support and share cost/losses to states that pay MSP to farmers for pulses.
Procurement: the process
Wheat, as in 2022
The procurement of wheat is underway in several states. The government procures foodgrains — rice, wheat, and coarse grains — in order to ensure farmers receive the minimum support price (MSP), and a stock is maintained to distribute to the poor under the public distribution system (PDS) and other schemes.
How is the procurement carried out?
The Food Corporation of India (FCI), along with state government agencies (SGAs), procures wheat. The FCI’s wheat procurement system can be decentralised (DCP) or centralised (non-DCP).
“Under centralised procurement system, the procurement of foodgrains in Central Pool is undertaken either by FCI directly or by State Govt. Agencies (SGA),” FCI says on its website. Central pool refers to stocks procured through MSP operations for welfare schemes and calamity relief. “Quantity procured by SGAs is handed over to FCI for storage and subsequent issue against GoI (Government of India) allocations in the same State or movement of surplus stocks to other States. The cost of the foodgrains procured by State agencies is reimbursed by FCI as per Provisional per cost-sheet issued by GOI as soon as the stocks are delivered to FCI,” FCI says.
Under the centralised system, in states like Punjab and Haryana, FCI/ state agencies procure wheat from farmers through arhtiyas (commission agents) as per the state APMC Act. In other states, wheat (or paddy) is procured directly from the farmers by FCI or SGAs.
Under the decentralised procurement system, state governments or their agencies procure, store, and distribute — against the GoI’s allocation for the targeted public distribution system and other welfare schemes (OWS) — rice, wheat, or coarse grains in the state.
According to FCI, “The excess stocks (rice & wheat) procured by the State/ its agencies are handed over to FCI in Central Pool. The expenditure incurred by the State Government on procurement, storage and distribution of DCP stocks are reimbursed by Government of India on the laid down principles. “The expenses such as MSP, arhatiya/society commission, administrative charges, mandi labour charges, transportation charges, custody & maintenance charges, interest charges, gunny cost, milling charges and statutory taxes are reimbursed on actual basis. The cost of excess stocks handed over to FCI is reimbursed by FCI…”
As per the portal, wheat is being procured under the DCP from eight states — Madhya Pradesh (since 1999-2000), Chhattisgarh (since 2001-02), Uttarakhand (since 2003-04), Gujarat (since 2004-05), West Bengal (since 2010-11), Bihar (since 2014-15), Punjab (since 2014-15), and Maharashtra (since 2020-21).
What is the price the government pays?
The government buys wheat at the MSP, which it declares before the sowing of the crop every year on the recommendation of the Commission for Agricultural Cost and Prices (CACP). The MSP of wheat for the 2022-23 rabi marketing season is Rs 2,015 per quintal. States can paybonus over and above this MSP.
MSPs are currently applicable on 23 farm commodities, including wheat and rice. However, there is no statutory backing for MSPs, or any law mandating their implementation. The farmers who led the year-long agitation against the three farm laws in 2020-21 wanted a legal guarantee for MSP, which the government declined to concede. Currently, the government carries out procurement for only some of the 23 of these commodities.
While procurement agencies ensure that stocks brought to mandis are purchased as per specifications, a farmer who gets a better price from a private player is free to sell elsewhere.
How is the quality of wheat ensured?
Farmers bring their produce to procurement centres and dump it in heaps. The quality control manager or technical assistant takes samples to check the quality. There have been concerns over the quality of wheat due to high temperatures in March. There have been complaints about shrivelled grains in Punjab.
When does procurement take place?
It differs from state to state. During the current marketing season, procurement began on April 1 in eight states: Punjab, Haryana, UP, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Gujarat, Delhi, and Jammu and Kashmir. In MP, it started on March 15. In Himachal Pradesh and Bihar, it began on April 15 and April 20 respectively.
With the exception of 2020, Punjab has traditionally been the number 1 contributor to the central pool for wheat, having increased its contribution from 102.09 lakh tonnes in 2011 to 132. 22 lakh tonnes in 2021. Haryana’s contribution increased from 63.47 lakh tonnes to 84.93 lakh tonnes. MP contributed the most in 2020 — 129.42 lakh tonnes.
What is the cost to the government?
The FCI defines economic cost as “the total cost”, including acquisition and distribution costs. It includes MSP and incidental costs of procurement, including state taxes, commission to arhtiyas or societies, cost of bagging materials, mandi labour, transportation to depot, etc. The FCI has pegged the economic cost of wheat at Rs 2,588.70 per quintal for the current season.
What is the target of wheat procurement during rabi marketing season 2022-23?
The government had set a target of procuring 444 lakh metric tonnes (LMT) of wheat, higher than last year’s 433.44 LMT. Of the target, 132 LMT is proposed to be procured from Punjab, followed by MP (129 LMT), Haryana (85 LMT), UP (60 LMT), Rajasthan (23 LMT), Bihar (10 LMT), Uttarakhand (2.2 LMT), Gujarat (2 LMT), J&K (0.35 LMT), Himachal Pradesh (0.27 LMT) and Delhi (0.18 LMT).
How much has been procured till date?
According to the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, 69.24 LMT of wheat had been procured until April 17. However, data available on the Central Food Grains Procurement Portal shows 101 LMT wheat has been procured till April 20.
According to FCI records from 2011 to 2021, procurement for the central pool has been 25–40% of the total wheat production. Total production increased from 88 million tonnes in 2011 to around 109 million tonnes in 2021, and procurement doubled from 22.5 million tonnes to 43.3 million tonnes in 2021. For the current rabi season, the Agriculture Ministry has pegged the wheat output at 111 million tonnes. However, there may be a shortfall due to the rise in temperatures in March.
How much buffer stock is needed?
As per norms that came into effect in January 2015, a buffer stock of 74.60 lakh tonnes of wheat should be maintained in the central pool as on April 1; 275.80 lakh tonnes on July 1; 205.20 lakh tonnes on October 1; and 138 lakh tonnes on January 1 every year. As per the latest available figures with FCI, wheat stock in the central pool stood at 189.8 LMT as on April 1, 2022, which is almost 2.5 times of the buffer stock requirement of 74.60 lakh tonnes.
What is the annual requirement of wheat for government schemes?
The annual offtake from the central pool has been around 300 lakh tonnes for distribution under the National Food Security Act, 2013, and other welfare schemes during recent years. During 2021-22, total offtake stood at 294.70 lakh tonnes. Also, 187.18 lakh tonnes were lifted for programmes like the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana and Atma Nirbhar Bharat programme for migrant workers during 2021-22 amid the pandemic.
The states’ capacity to store foodgrains after procurement
Pradeep Thakur TNN 2013/06/16
Most states can’t stock grains beyond 75 days
New Delhi: A CAG report on foodgrain management in the country paints a grim picture on the states’ capability to manage operational stock of foodgrain. Out of 31 states and Union territories, eight have storage capacities of 120 days.
Most poor states such as Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Assam do not have the capacity to handle stocks for more than 13-75 days. HP, Meghalaya, J&K, Jharkhand and Assam cannot even handle their stock for a month. Audit reveals that more than 1 lakh tonne of wheat worth Rs 122 crore was damaged in Punjab and Haryana alone in the last two years.
Despite the fact that over a hundred lakh tonnes of foodgrain stocks as old as 2007-08 were lying in the custody of states, the government continued on a procurement drive. Also, at a time when the government’s spend on food subsidy was estimated to touch Rs 1.25 lakh crore, it exported foodgrain from its overflowing reserves at subsidized rates causing loss of over Rs 1,700 crore (in 2012-13).
Loss of crop
India loses 22% of its grain output annually
The Times of India 7 November 2023
Around 74 million tonnes of food is lost in India every year, which is 22% of the country’s foodgrain output or 10% of its total foodgrain and horticulture production, put together, in 2022-23, reports Vishwa Mohan. The loss accounts for roughly 8% of the total 931 million tonnes of food waste globally, said scientists from Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR).
ICAR chief Himanshu Pathak said inadequate storage facilities is one of the key reasons behind food losses.
Foodgrains and their management: India