Uttar Pradesh, the country’s largest rice producer, will be able to contribute only one third of expected at 15 lakh tonnes to the Centre’s buffer stock in 2009-10 due to drought that has reduced paddy acreage in the state sharply.

The Centre has so far procured over 36 lakh tonnes (LT) of rice from Uttar Pradesh in 2008-09 season ending September.

According to state Food Secretary Jacob Thomas, “We cannot procure much this year. We are planning the procurement target of 15 LT of rice both levy and custom milled rice“.

The procurement target has been lowered after taking stock of the paddy crop situation in the state, he said.

According to official data, farmers in the state have planted paddy in about 32 lakh hectare against the target of 59.70 lakh hectares during 2009-10 Kharif season. This is likely to lower rice production in UP to 80 LT. Last year, the state had harvested 130 LT of rice.

“Only 32 lakh hectare area is covered under paddy now.

Further coverage is not possible due to less shower and irrigation,” Thomas said, adding that fall in productivity is also expected.

The UP Food Secretary, however, blamed the Food Corporation of India (FCI) of not being interested in buying levy rice from the state, or rice at the price fixed by the Centre.

“FCI did not co-operate in taking levy rice in UP. Without prior notice it stopped levy on parboiled rice unofficially,” he said, adding that FCI seemed not interested in raising the quantity in the Central Pool.