The government aims to procure record of 40 million tonnes of rice from farmers in the ongoing 2012-13 marketing year that started this month, even as the summer kharif output is estimated to be lower.
In the 2011-12 marketing year (October-September), the government had targeted to procure 35 million tonnes of rice and has nearly reached that level.
"We have kept a target of a record 40 million tonnes of rice procurement for the 2012-13 marketing year after consulting state governments," Food Corporation of India (FCI) chairman and managing director Amar Singh told PTI.
Paddy procurement, which started from October 1, has reached around 5,00,000 tonnes in the first week and is expected to pick up in the coming days, he said, adding that paddy is being purchased at present from Punjab and Haryana.
Singh said higher minimum support price (MSP) announced for paddy earlier this year will help meet the procurement target despite an estimated 6.5 per cent decline in kharif rice output to 85.59 million tonnes due to poor rains.
"Procurement is expected to be higher because there is growing awareness among farmers about the MSP. They realise selling rice to traders will fetch them lower than the MSP.
So, we see more number of farmers especially in Bihar, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh selling rice to FCI," he said.
The government has fixed MSP of common grade paddy at Rs 1,250 per quintal, while 'A' grade variety of paddy at Rs 1,280 per quintal for this year.
FCI is the government's nodal agency that undertakes procurement operation to ensure farmers get a minimum support price (MSP) for the produce. It also stores and distributes the grain to meet demand under various social schemes.
Singh said maximum quantity of rice would be procured from Punjab, followed by Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, among others.