Source says 4 states seek extension for rice procurement till Sep 30

Monday, Aug 24, 2020


By Sampad Nandy


NEW DELHI – At least four states have written to the central government seeking an extension till Sep 30 to procure rice for 2019-20 (Oct-Sep), since procurement has taken a hit on account of heavy rain recently, a senior government official said. The current deadline for procurement of rabi rice is Sep 15. 


"States like West Bengal, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, and Assam have sought an extension as they feel that the procurement will not be over," the official said. These four states are major rabi rice growers and key contributors to the central pool.


West Bengal and Tamil Nadu have sought extension citing delay in the arrival of the rabi crop and a subsequent lag in starting procurement due to the nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of COVID-19. The nationwide lockdown began from Mar 25 and was partially lifted from June. 


"Usually, rabi crop arrivals are delayed in Tamil Nadu and West Bengal as they are sown late. This year the further delay in starting the procurement operations due to the lockdown has also hit government purchases," he said. 


Maharashtra and Assam have also sought an extension as both states claim recent heavy rainfall has hit procurement. Assam has been facing severe floods over the past few weeks. Parts of coastal and interior Maharashtra have also been reeling under similar flood-like situations due to excessive rainfall over the past two to three weeks. 


So far, West Bengal has procured 1.63 mln tn rice, over 4% lower on year, while Tamil Nadu has bought 1.97 mln tn rice, up over 61% on year. Maharashtra and Assam have bought nearly double rice on year at 1.16 mln tn and 163,000 mln tn, respectively. 


The government expects overall rice buys to reach 52 mln tn in 2019-20 (Oct-Sep), including 41.8 mln tn procured in the kharif marketing season, due to a pick up in procurement in Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, and Maharashtra. Robust purchases in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh have also led to a record procurement this year, he said. 


The rise in purchases of rice may, however, lead the government into another storage crisis ahead of the next procurement season that starts in October, as the Food Corp of India is already wrestling with a space shortage.    


The kharif rice procurement that starts in October is also seen at 43.0 mln tn based on the estimates sent by several states, another senior government official had said earlier.  End


Edited by Aditya Sakorkar


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