uniform procurement policy: Center follows uniform procurement policy; cannot take surplus parboiled rice: Food Secretary

Asserting that it follows a uniform and non-discriminatory procurement policy, the Center on Monday said the Telangana government was told much in advance that the Food Corporation of India cannot procure surplus parboiled rice due to sufficient stocks coupled with limited PDS demand for the grain.

Union Food Secretary Sudhanshu Pandey clarified the Centre’s position on the procurement of parboiled rice after Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Roa staged a protest in the National Capital and threatened that he would intensify the stir if the state’s demand on the purchase of parboiled rice is not met within 24 hours.

Addressing reporters, Pandey said the Center does not procure paddy from any state. It only buys raw rice and very less parboiled rice as per the PDS demand. So, there is a uniform and non-discriminatory policy in place for all states.

“Considering the availability of surplus parboiled stocks with FCI equivalent to the requirement of 3-4 years at that time, it was impressed upon all states delivering surplus parboiled rice, as early as in December 2020 to limit the same,” he said.

Again in August last year, it was decided in a meeting of food secretaries that no parboiled rice will be accepted from any state for the central pool during the 2021-22 Kharif marketing season (KMS) in view of burgeoning parboiled stock with FCI.

As of April 1, 2022, FCI had a stock of about 40 lakh tons of parboiled rice, which may be sufficient for the requirement of about two years, he said, adding that the Telangana government had given in writing that it will not supply parboiled rice to FCI.

Also, surplus parboiled stock cannot be procured from states as there is no demand for such grain under the Public Distribution System (PDS), he said.

In the last few years, Pandey said production in the parboiled consuming states like Jharkhand, Kerala and Tamil Nadu has increased resulting in lesser movement of parboiled rice to the deficit states. Due to increased production in parboiled consuming states, the volume of movement has decreased over a period.

“From Punjab too, where the procurement of rice is maximum, we have not procured any parboiled rice.”

Currently, about 20 lakh tonnes of parboiled rice is consumed annually from FCI stocks for fulfilling the requirements under National Food Security Act in parboiled deficit states, he said.

Whereas Telangana is a surplus parboiled producing region and does not consume parboiled rice, but only produces which is always surplus and delivered to FCI, he added.

According to the Secretary, FCI’s total parboiled rice procurement stood at 88.37 lakh tonnes for Kharif and Rabi combined in 2020-21. Out of this, 48.85 lakh ton was procured from Telangana alone, which is more than 50 per cent of the total procurement of parboiled rice.

The second-highest was Odisha (17.7 lakh ton), Chhattisgarh (15.95 lakh ton), West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh, he said.

Pandey further said the FCI had initially procured 24.5 lakh tons of parboiled rice from Telangana last year but later upon the request of the state government additional quantities were purchased by FCI.

“When this special exemption was given, the state government gave in writing that it will supply rice as per the FCI requirement and will not supply parboiled rice,” he added.

For undertaking procurement of rabi raw rice in 2021-22, the Secretary said the Telangana government was asked to provide its procurement and packaging estimate in February 2022 itself. However, the state government has not yet submitted the proposals despite several reminders.

Explaining the process of procurement, FCI Chairman and Managing Director Atish Chandra said the FCI has an agreement signed with every state for the procurement of raw rice.

Telangana, which is a decentralized procurement state (DCP), has a further agreement with millers for converting paddy into raw rice and parboiled rice.

The Telangana government can easily get raw rice converted instead of parboiled rice from millers and supply it to the central pool, he said and added FCI bears the milling charges and has no problem in taking raw rice.

Joint Secretary in the Union Food Ministry Subodh Kumar said Andhra Pradesh also has the same agro-climatic condition but it does not have the problem in supplying raw rice to the central pool.

In fact, procurement of parboiled rice from Andhra Pradesh was just about 4.29 lakh tons last year, he said adding that Telangana has to make a slight change at the milling stage to convert it into raw rice and it is doable.

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