Two years ago, it was considered royal food, if you were having Toor dal in your meals, the prices being as high as Rs. 200 a kg. Witnessing such supply crunch which hiked the prices to that level, government came to rescue by starting to procure more and more pulse in buffer stock to neutralize the prices in the market. As a result of that decision, the Union government is now struggling to dispose of its buffer stock of 18 lakh tonnes.
The Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Ministry has charted out three ways to reduce seven lakh tonnes first and 10 lakh tonnes ahead of December, when the new crop hits the market. The lentil is now selling at ₹50 a kg.
For the first time, the government last year decided to create a buffer stock of pulses to ensure better prices for farmers and use the stock to augment local supply when prices rise.
“We still have a buffer stock of 18 lakh tonnes in our godowns. We have decided to dispose of some quantity to the States and also use in welfare schemes,” Union Minister for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public distribution Ram Vilas Paswan said. Out of this buffer, nearly four lakh tonnes is one year old and needs to be taken out of the godowns immediately.
The Group of Secretaries on Wednesday decided that 3.5 lakh tonnes would be diverted to Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and another State at subsidised rates. They will get the lentil at a subsidy of ₹18 to ₹15 a kg. They will be distributing it through the public distribution system.
Another 1.5 lakh tonne will be reserved for welfare schemes such as the mid-day meal scheme. It will also be sent out to Defence messes and jails.