Less than 3% of this season’s permitted amount of pulses and oil seeds have actually been obtained yet under the once-hyped PM-AASHA scheme, Agriculture Ministry data show. Arrivals of these crops began in October and will end by February.
A total of 37.59 lakh metric tonnes of procurement had been authorised under the Centrally funded scheme. Nevertheless, only 1.08 lakh tonnes have been acquired till now, according to data placed in the Lok Sabha recently. As the matter of fact, of the eleven States that chose the scheme this season, procurement has not even began in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha.
The Pradhan Mantri Annadata Aay Sanrakshan Abhiyan or popularly knows as PM-AASHA, was declared with great fanfare in September 2018, as an attempt to ensure that farmers growing pulses, oil seeds and copra actually get the minimum support prices they are guaranteed for their crops every year. Apart from initiatives to let cash payment to farmers or procurement by private traders, PM-AASHA’s main feature was a price support scheme whereby Central agencies would procure pulses and oil seeds straight from farmers.
The Centre had budgeted ₹15,053 crore over two years to execute the scheme apart from an additional government credit guarantee of ₹16,550 crore for agencies undertaking procurement. “The government is working with a holistic approach…Increasing MSP is not adequate and it is more important that farmers should get full benefit of the announced MSP,” said a Cabinet statement at the time of launch.
The main crops covered under the scheme this season are moong, urad, arhar, groundnut and soyabean. The late arrival of the monsoon means that harvests and crop arrivals also began slightly later than expected, especially for arhar or tur dal, so procurement is expected to carry on, though tapering, until February.
However, procurement is still lagging badly in most States. The highest sanctioned procurement is in Maharashtra, where 10 lakh tonnes of soyabean procurement were sanctioned, apart from 58,000 tonnes of moong and urad dal. However, barely 1,709 tonnes have been procured in the State so far, including just 14 tonnes of soyabean.
The highest procurement till now has taken place in Rajasthan, where more than 51,000 tonnes of moong and groundnut have been procured, against a total sanctioned amount of 9.6 lakh tonnes. While almost 5 lakh tonnes had been sanctioned in Madhya Pradesh, and 1.18 lakh tonnes in Uttar Pradesh, procurement has not yet begun in either State.