The Government of India has amended the guidelines for procurement, allocation, distribution and disposal of coarse grains dated March 21, 2014, and December 26, 2014, the Union food ministry said in an official statement.
The procurement of coarse grains was regulated by the 2014 guidelines, under which states were allowed to procure coarse grains from farmers at MSP under the central pool. This was subject to the prior approval of the Government of India on the detailed procurement plan prepared by states in consultation with the Food Corporation of India.
As per the 2014 guidelines, the whole quantity was to be distributed within 3 months from the end of the procurement period.
“These guidelines have served the purpose of encouraging the procurement of coarse grains by the States. This was reported in the increasing trend in the procurement of coarse grains during the last 3 years.
“However, it was observed that several difficulties were being faced by some State Governments with respect to distribution period of coarse grain which was 3 months each for procurement and distribution activity, irrespective of the shelf life of the commodity,” the statement said.
To obviate difficulties faced by some states in procurement/distribution of coarse grains and to increase procurement of coarse grains under the central pool, discussions were held with various stakeholders.
Based on the discussion with stakeholders, the Centre has amended the 2014 guidelines.
“Distribution period of Jowar and Ragi has been increased to 6 and 7 months, respectively, from the earlier period of 3 months,” the food ministry said.
This would increase procurement and consumption of jowar and ragi as the state would have more time to distribute these commodities in Target Public Distribution System (TPDS)/other welfare schemes, it added.
The ministry said the provision of inter-state transportation of surplus coarse grains through FCI is incorporated to cater for advance demand placed by the consuming state before the start of procurement.
“New guidelines would increase procurement/ consumption of coarse grains through Public Distribution System (PDS). As these crops are normally grown on marginal and un-irrigated land, therefore, enhanced cropping of these would encourage sustainable agriculture and crop diversification,” the statement said.
With the increased procurement, the number of farmers benefitting from the procurement of these crops would also increase.
“Marginal and poor farmers who are also PDS beneficiaries will gain due to procurement and then the distribution of millets at Rs 1 per kg. Region-specific coarse grains can be distributed for local consumption saving transportation cost of wheat/rice,” the statement said.
Coarse grains are highly nutritive, non-acid-forming, gluten-free and have dietary properties. Besides, to strengthen our fight against malnutrition in children and adolescents, the consumption of coarse grains would help to foster immunity and health.