FCI trails in procurement target this year too, buys just 1.2% of Punjab’s total paddy

The Food Corporation of India (FCI) has procured only 1.98 lakh metric tonne (1.29%) of a total of 154 lakh metric tonne paddy in Punjab this year even as the agency is mandated to purchase at least 5% of the grain arriving in the state’s mandis for contribution to the central pool.

Last year, the central agency purchased 2.45 lakh MT paddy directly from Punjab’s grain markets.

The total estimated procurement in the state is likely to remain around 175 lakh metric tonne this kharif season, according to the Punjab government.

The four state agencies — Pungrain, Punsup, Markfed and the Punjab State Warehouse Corporation — procure paddy from the state farmers and hand it over to the FCI, for which state is paid in advance in the form of cash credit limit (CCL).

A senior official said the FCI’s process of procuring foodgrains is different from that of the state procurementagencies as it only purchased paddy froma few purchasing centres.

“We adopt our own storage process rather than storing paddy in private mills to avoid losses and litigation. Therefore, we only procured paddy from purchasing centres located near our godowns,” the official said.

On the other hand, state procurement agencies have managed to cross their set targets. The Pungrain has purchased 62 lakh MT (40.83%), Markfed 39 lakh MT (25.86%), Punsup 32 lakh MT (21.01%), Warehouse 16 lakh MT (10.69%), and private players 47,388 MT (.30%) so far.

FCI regional general manager (Punjab) Arshdeep Singh Thind said there is a lot of logistics involved in their direct purchase of paddy from the grain markets.

“Moreover, we get the paddy stock under the central pool system as the state agencies usually procure on the central agency’s behalf. In fact, direct purchase depends upon a number of grain markets allotted to the FCI for procurement,” Thind added.

Of a total of nearly 4,000 purchasing centres in Punjab, the FCI is purchasing paddy from 160 allotted centres only.

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