Sitting on a buffer stock of 18 lakh tonnes of pulses, the government decided to use part of it to meet the protein requirement under the various central schemes, including mid-day meal.
A decision in this regard was taken at the meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“To give effect to the decision, the CCEA has empowered the concerned departments/ministries to carry out suitable amendments in their schemes/guidelines to enable them to take/provide pulses from the buffer in ‘kind’ under their respective schemes,” an official statement said.
This will help ensure adequate supply of pulses under the various schemes including Mid-day Meal, hospitals as well as ministries/departments or their agencies providing food/catering and hospitality services.
The disposal of pulses to the central government schemes will be in addition to the ongoing sale of the buffer stock in the open market and also to state governments, it said.
The cost of pulses supplied to states would, in no case, be higher than the market price, protecting their interest as well, it added.
In the statement, the government said that the concerned ministries will make necessary changes in their schemes and assess pulses requirement within next three months.
The supply of pulses from the central buffer stock would commence based on such requirement indicated by these ministries/departments, it said.
The objective is to enable the concerned administrative ministries/departments to ensure that pulses from the buffer stock are utilised as in ‘kind’ component of the centre’s contribution in such schemes, in lieu of its financial contribution of equivalent amount.
“The concerned departments may revert to the current system of making nutrition available only in case of non- availability of pulses in the buffer,” the statement said.
The government agencies have also been enabled to make suitable provision in their commercial arrangement (tenders/contracts) to ensure that the requirements of pulses for such operations are met through the central buffer.
Stating that availability of assured channels of disposal is of critical importance for operating a sustainable buffer, the government said the move will facilitate efficient management of buffer stock of pulses.
For the first time, the government had last year decided to create a buffer stock of pulses to ensure better prices to farmers and at the same time use the stock to augment local supply in times of price rise. About 20 lakh tonnes of buffer were created through local procurement and imports.