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State godowns can hold just 18 pc of expected rice 

Chandigarh: Godowns in Punjab have space to accommodate just 18 per cent of rice to be shelled from 190 lakh metric tonnes (LMT) of paddy that starts arriving in state mandis from October 1 onwards.

Punjab has 158 lakh metric tonnes of covered space, with 108 LMT of space created by the Food Corporation of India and 50 LMT space created by the Punjab state procurement agencies. Information available with The Tribune shows that while all the state government godowns are full with the wheat procured in April-May and FCI godowns full with rice milled in previous two years, only 22 LMT of space is available for the new stock of rice to be milled in the upcoming season.

It is learnt that 22 LMT of wheat and 62 LMT of rice (from 2016-17 and 2017-18) is lying in the FCI godowns, while 50 LMT of wheat is lying in the godowns of state procurement agencies. About 2 LMT of space in FCI godowns is used for storing jute bags, thus leaving just 22 LMT of space for the new rice that will begin arriving within 10 days.

While the FCI directly takes the paddy from the mandis to its godowns (this year FCI intends buying almost 10 LMT of paddy), the state procurement agencies lift the paddy from the mandis and send them directly to 4,000 rice shellers in the state, which also act as storage points for the state government’s paddy.

The problem of storage begins when the rice shellers mill the paddy and start delivering custom milled rice (CMR) to the FCI. Tarsem Saini, president of the Punjab Rice Millers Association told The Tribune that the delivery of custom milled rice would begin from mid-November and the entire rice (120 LMT) would be delivered by April end next year. This was also the time when the fresh wheat (to be harvested in April next year) would require to be stored.

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