Data suggests that while substantial amounts of Rice & Wheat are procured by the government at MSP, the government procurement in the case of Millets is negligible, except in the case of Ragi. It is not even 5% in the case of other millets.
The year 2023 is being observed as the ‘International Year of Millets’ by the UN, following India’s proposal. The objective behind observing the year of millets is to promote the production, consumption, and export of millets through the creation of domestic & global demand for millets. The focus is on the sustainable production of millets and the nutrition security it can help achieve.
In the first story of this series on millets, we looked at the different benefits of millets and their potential to address various Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Numerous measures have been rolled out by both Union and State governments to popularize millets, especially in the last few years.
Despite these efforts, there hasn’t been a significant improvement in the production of millets or nutri- cereals in India as highlighted in the previous story. The production was more than 200 lakh tonnes in 2010-11 and dropped to 137.1 tonnes in 2018-19. Despite the improvement in production in the subsequent two years, the production dropped again in 2021-22 and is estimated to drop further, though marginally, in 2022-23. The production of Jowar, Ragi, and other small millets has also been on a decline in recent years. Jowar, Ragi, & Bajra are the only millets that are currently covered under the Minimum Support Price (MSP) regime.
Among other initiatives proposed to promote millets, the Union government will also focus on enhancing the procurement of millets by states. Usually, coarse grains including maize and millets covered under MSP, are procured from the farmers by the State governments based on their plan of procurement with prior approval of the Central government and subject to distribution of procured coarse grain under the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) in the procuring state.
Procurement of coarse grains is very low compared to rice and wheat
According to data from a parliament response, the quantity of rice and wheat procured by the government has increased in the last five years. Between 2017-18 and 2021-22, the procurement of rice went up from 568 LMT to 881 LMT registering an increase of 55% while that of wheat went up by almost 41% from 308 LMT to 433 LMT. On the other hand, among coarse grains, the procurement of Jowar increased considerably from 0.026 LMT to about 1.57 LMT during the same period. The procurement of Bajra which had improved significantly until 2020-21 saw a sudden drop in 2021-22. However, in 2022-23, as of 07 December 2022, over 1.1 LMT of Bajra was procured. Likewise, the procurement of Maize also dropped in 2021-22 and improved in 2022-23. The quantity of Ragi procured also increased more than 5 times between 2018-19 and 2020-21 and dropped marginally in 2022-23.
Production data for these crops have been taken from RBI’s Handbook of Statistics on Indian Economy 2021-22. On comparing the procurement with the production, the following trends can be observed during the last five years period:
- The percentage of wheat procured against the production has increased from 31% to 41%.
- There is an overall increase in the share of paddy procured. It increased from 50% in 2017-18 to 72% in 2020-21 and dropped to 68% in 2021-22.
- The share of Jowar procured has gone up from less than 0.1% to nearly 4% of the total production.
- The procurement of maize has been less than 1% throughout, and the procurement of Bajra has been staggered between 0.1% and 3.3%.
- The procurement of Ragi steadily rose and crossed 25% in 2021-22.
In short, it is evident that the share of coarse grains procured is much lower compared to wheat and paddy. While there is an improvement in the share of Ragi procured, the procurement of other coarse grains has not even crossed 5%.
7 states are major contributors to procurement of coarse grains
During the last five years, seven states have been the major contributors to the production and procurement of coarse grains. These are Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, and Uttar Pradesh. To understand the difference in the procurement of the staple grains of rice and wheat, and coarse grains across states, the production and procurement of the crops in these seven states have been considered. For paddy, data is available for 2016-17 to 2020-21 and for the rest, data for 2017-18 to 2021-22 is available. Also, for Karnataka and Odisha, data on wheat procurement is not available.
With respect to coarse grains, procurement is the highest in Karnataka as compared to other states. Karnataka accounted for 44% of the procurement at the national level in 2018-19 which has increased steadily to 81% in 2021-22. During this period, Maharashtra’s share has dropped from 71% in 2017-18 to less than 7% in 2021-22.
Haryana procures the highest share of wheat and paddy
In terms of percentage share of procurement as against the production, the share of wheat procured increased from 69% to 81% between 2017-18 and 2021-22 in Haryana and from 12% to 17% in Uttar Pradesh. Madhya Pradesh recorded 42% procurement in 2017-18 which increased to 71% in 2020-21 and dropped to 57% in 2021-22. The share of wheat procured in Gujarat increased from 0.2% to 5% in this period, while Maharashtra’s share is negligible.
Similarly, for paddy, the procurement has improved in the states of Madhya Pradesh (46% to 84% between 2016-17 and 2020-21), Maharashtra (15% to 58%), Odisha (65% to 88%) and Uttar Pradesh (26% to 43%). In Gujarat and Karnataka too, the share of paddy procured had touched 5% in 2020-21, up from less than 1% in 2017-18. Haryana procured paddy from other states as well as a result of which its procurement is more than 100%.
In the case of coarse grains, like the trend at the national level, the procurement shares are low across all these states. In Gujarat, the share has been less than 1% throughout the five years whereas, in Karnataka, the share has increased from 2% in 2018-19 to 7% in 2020-21 and 2021-22. Odisha too has witnessed an increase in procurement touching 7% in 2020-21 and 9% in 2021-22. In Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, except in 2020-21, the share was below 1% in the remaining four years. While Haryana also witnessed an increase from 2% to 11% in the first four years, Maharashtra witnessed a decline from 3% in 2019-20 to less than 1% in 2021-22.
To summarize, Haryana’s procurement has been comparatively higher across staples as well as coarse grains. On the other hand, procurement has been low in Gujarat. While other states like Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh had better procurement of at least one of the staple crops or both, their procurement of coarse grains was relatively low. Karnataka and Odisha had a higher procurement of coarse grains including the three millets. It is noteworthy that Karnataka and Odisha have their own millet promotion initiatives which are considered success stories for the country to follow.
Efforts being made to include millets in welfare schemes
India being the world’s largest producer of millets and running the world’s largest public food distribution system, the Union government has taken initiatives to promote millets under the Public Distribution System (PDS). However, only those millets covered under the MSP are part of the PDS. These millets covered under MSP are also part of the Integrated Child Development Services Scheme.
To make procurement and distribution of coarse grains including millets covered under MSP easier for States as well as to increase their procurement under Central Pool, the government has enhanced the distribution period/shelf life to up to six months for maize, nine months for jowar & bajra and ten months for ragi from the earlier period of three months. With this move, the government aims to increase procurement and consumption of these commodities as the States would have more time to distribute these commodities in Target Public Distribution System, Mid-Day Meal, and other welfare schemes.
Data suggests that India must focus on both production and demand-creation for attaining its objectives in this international year of millets since there hasn’t been much progress on this front.