India is buying more rice than needed for buffer stocks, says FCI CMD.

The Food Corporation of India (FCI) allayed fears of potential problems arising from lower wheat procurement this year and expressed confidence to buy more than the annual target in all welfare plans. FCI President and CEO Ashok Kumar Meena told the media about FCI’s achievements since its inception in 1964: “There is no need to worry about the availability of buffer rice.” According to him, the amount of rice purchased so far is sufficient to meet the requirements of the welfare systems. While the annual demand for rice in all welfare plans is 40-41 million tonnes (mt), procurement for this season (October 2023-September 2024) has reached 31.1 million tonnes as of January 2 . demand,” Meena said.

May misses target

Procurement of rice in the first three months since the season began on October 1 fell 14 percent to 29.93 million tons from 34.79 million tons a year ago . In October-December 2022, the total purchase of rice was 11 percent higher than the level of 2021. Experts see that this year’s purchase may fall short of the target of 52.13 million tons. “One of the reasons for cheaper procurement is that prices of rice juice are also very high on the open market. Another reason is that the pace of procurement has been slow in states like Telangana, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh due to the assembly elections,” said Meena. the purchase of hanging items is likely to increase in the future as these states announce bonuses for farmers.

But procurement of rice paper in Uttar Pradesh is slow because the open market prices are high this year,  According to the FCI, the stock of food was 67.32 million tons, including 32.83 million tons of unmilled paddy. to farmers and distributes free food grains to 81 million poor people through food rations. It also uses surplus food grains through the OMSS system to improve domestic availability and control prices. OMSS weekly e-auction has sold 5.9 million tonnes of wheat in the open market since June 2023, helping stabilize retail prices, according to FCI. Wheat retail prices increased negatively year-on-year, while rice prices are up about 13 percent.

Since FCI auctioned a huge amount of rice every week, even if the sales are not good, the prices will not increase significantly. Rice received lukewarm response and FCI could sell only 0.15 million tonnes of rice despite a floor price of ₹ 29/kg. Confirming that there are proposals to launch Bharat rice like Bharat atta and Bharat Dal, Meena refused to share more details. The government sold Bharat Dal (gram dal) at ₹ 60/kg and Bharat atta at ₹ 275/10kg through cooperatives Nafed, NCCF and Kendriya Bhandar. FCI has informed the Ministry of Food that it will have sufficient stock of rice for the scheme when it is launched. Officials estimate that a maximum of 3 million tonnes is required for Bharati rice..

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