Over a year after the Centre had cleared the use of 20 lakh tonnes of pulses to meet nutritional requirements under the welfare programmes in the States, Maharashtra government has demanded better access to the buffer stock.

The State government has demanded that a single agency be appointed to procure pulses, possibly under the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation (NAFED), in a meeting with Union Cabinet Secretary Pradeep Kumar Sinha. A senior secretary said, “We [Maharashtra government] too have additional stock and have requested the Centre to urge NAFED to procure it from us. The Centre must also improve access channels.”

The Centre has been cajoling State governments to buy pulses from the buffer stock but Maharashtra has not done so yet. It has, however, due to crashing crop prices, shortage of pulses, procured stock directly from farmers after the Centre hiked the minimum support price for tur from Rs. 4,500 to over Rs. 5,000 per quintal last year, which led to an increase in production, senior officials said.

The Centre had said that the buffer stock was opened to States to ensure that it is utilised as an ‘in kind’ contribution, in lieu of an equivalent financial contribution.

However, State officials said, “If they pick some of ours, we will be able to better direct the remaining towards welfare schemes.”

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