A committee headed by Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramanian recommended setting up of a separate organisation to prioritise procurement and disposal of pulses, which have become the government’s bugbear given the volatility in prices.
Making a strong recommendation for state procurement of pulses to stabilise prices, the committee wants the task to be handed over to a new institution jointly owned by the government, public sector institutions and ‘credentialed’ private players. However, the day-to-day management of this institution should be left to a board of directors to ensure independence in functioning.
The new institution would be the designated agency of the Central government for pulses’ management, the committee suggested.It said the institution would help stabilise prices by making effective time-to-time market interventions in domestic as well as international markets, and also maintain a satisfactory level of operational and buffer stock of agricultural commodities.
This year, the government tasked the Food Corporation of India, National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India and Small Farmers Agribusiness Consortium with the procurement of pulses at farmgates at the minimum support price in case of depressed prices in anticipation of a bumper harvest.
“However, for the future, there is need to shore up the institutional arrangements, including the creation of additional institutions with a variety of governance structures for pulses,” the report prepared by Subramanian said. He presented the report to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Friday.
Noting that pulses deteriorate faster than cereals like rice and wheat, Subramanian made a strong pitch for efficient management policies for effective stocking, warehousing, processing and disposal of pulses.
“Efficient stock disposal under clear protocols need to be spelt out,” he said.To make the arrangement commercially viable, Subramanian recommended authorising the new institution to branch out gradually into trading other agricultural crops, including fruits and vegetables.