Food minister Ram Vilas Paswan on Tuesday said central procurement agency FCI will continue to purchase foodgrains from states, including Punjab and Haryana.
His comment assumes significance as it comes in the wake of the Shanta Kumar committee's recommendations that FCI should stop procurement from developed states like Punjab, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh and procure from states like UP and Bihar.
"We want to tell all states including Haryana and Punjab that there should not be any misunderstanding (with regard to foodgrain procurement). Whatever system of procurement was earlier going on will stay," Paswan said while addressing the media here.
"(But) we have made it clear that whatever earlier (food grain procurement) system was going on will continue to be followed. We will buy foodgrain from states," he added.
If any state is capable of procuring crop on its own, then the Centre will "think over" the matter, he added.
"If any state government says that its infrastructure is ready for procurement and will buy on its own...if some state says that it is ready or capable then we will think over the matter," he said.
He, however, cited the example of Bihar which was buying directly from farmers had later failed.
To a query, Paswan said if Haryana government wanted FCI to buy crop, then the central agency will purchase food grain from the state.
The Haryana government has already decided that five state-owned procurement agencies would procure wheat crop for central pool from growers on behalf of FCI during ensuing Rabi Marketing season 2015-16.
It means that from the coming procurement season, central agency Food Corporation of India (FCI) will not purchase crop from Haryana. The entire wheat stock will be bought by state's procurement agencies.
Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar said every grain of the grower would be purchased.
The Centre had earlier asked FCI to stop purchase of The Centre had earlier asked FCI to stop purchase of foodgrains in states like Punjab and Haryana considering the fully developed procurement system in these states.
The move came after the Shanta Kumar Committee which was constituted for overhauling of Food Corporation of India (FCI), recommended that FCI should hand over all procurement operations of foodgrain like wheat, paddy to states like Punjab, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Odisha as they have sufficient experience and reasonable infrastructure for procurement.
Significantly, Punjab government had sought from the BJP-led Centre to reconsider its decision of stopping foodgrain procurement by FCI from Punjab, saying it would prove to be "very harmful" for the farming community and could lead to "distress selling".
The SAD-BJP led state government had asked the Centre to implement the decision of not purchasing foodgrain by FCI in a phased manner, seeking time for farmers to build up capacity for other crops.
Meanwhile, Paswan said that Shanta Kumar Committee report had also created "confusion" over the number of beneficiaries under the Food Security Act.
"The committee report had said that the average number of beneficiaries under Food Security Act should be reduced from 67 per cent to 40 per cent. It created an impression that Modi led government was trying to reduce number of beneficiaries. I rejected it completely," Paswan said.
To a query on wheat procurement is being affected because of crop getting damaged in Punjab and Haryana, Paswan said that there would not be any adverse impact on wheat procurement which would start tomorrow in both states.