Supply of ragi, jowar under PDS may be put off

Procurement of food grains is a problem as it is off-season; likely to get better by Dec

Supply of ragi, jowar under PDS may be put off

The State government is likely to postpone the supply of ragi and jowar along with rice at Re one a kg under its flagship Anna Bhagya scheme by at least two months, due to non-availability of adequate food grains for procurement.

The government had scheduled to supply ragi and jowar to all the below poverty line (BPL) families from October 2. But, the Food and Civil Supplies department has not been able to procure the food grains as it is off-season. Ragi and jowar will normally be available in the market for procurement after November, when the crop will be harvested. Hence, the department has informed the government that it will be able to commence the supply of ragi and jowar only from December, official sources said.

The government took the decision to supply ragi and jowar at Re one a kg under the Anna Bhagya following a demand from the people of northern and southern parts of the State. While ragi will be supplied in 18 south Karnataka districts covering 34.28 lakh families, jowar will be provided in 13 north Karnataka districts covering 47.41 lakh families. There are 31 districts under public distribution system (PDS) in the State.

Wheat supply back

The plan is to supply different quantity of food grains based on the number of members in a family. It is only optional for a family to take ragi and jowar.  One can take only rice if one does not want ragi and jowar. Besides, a decision has been taken to restore supply of wheat to the BPL families. The government had discontinued supply of wheat under PDS. Instead, it had swapped State’s wheat quota with rice from the Food Corporation of India.

The department is planning to supply ragi and jowar only for four to five months a year, most likely from December to March. This is again due to non-availability of these food grains for procurement throughout the year. The department has to procure an estimated 26,183 metric tonnes of jowar and 22,321 metric tonnes ragi every month for the purpose.

Sources said procurement of ragi and jower for PDS may prove to be a costly affair at the current market prices, ragi and jowar cost Rs 30 and Rs 40 per  kg respectively. Whereas, the government is procuring rice at Rs 27 per kg, including transportaion cost. Hence, the department is contemplating supplying hybrid variety of jowar which costs Rs 19 per kg. But, not many people use hybrid jowar in north Karnataka. However, a decision has not been taken  in this regard, officials said.

However, the burden of procuring huge quantity of rice (2.77 lakh metric tonnes per month) on the government will ease once ragi, jowar and wheat  is supplied. The burden is likely to come down by 70,000 metric tonnes per month.

To call tenders

When contacted, Minister of State for Food and Civil Supplies Dinesh Gundu Rao said efforts will be made to procure ragi and jowar by calling tenders. If the response is poor, then supply of ragi and jowar will be delayed. The government can’t manufacture food grains. It can be supplied to people only if it is available in the market, he added.

On Minister for Sugar Prakash B Hukkeri's statement that the government is planning to supply jaggery under the PDS, Rao said the minister has only made a statement. It is yet to taken a concrete shape at the government level, he added.

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