Under the law, 67% of the country's population are to be given wheat and rice at Rs 2 and Rs 3 per kg, respectively. Wheat arrivals usually begin by the last week of March and gathers pace by the end of April. According to the Food Corporation of India, the arrivals in mandis stood at 12.9 mt on Friday as against 17.1 mt during same period last year.
The arrivals have seen the sharpest fall in Punjab (130%) and Madhya Pradesh (28%). Punjab and Madhra Pradesh are the major contributors to the government's wheat procurement drive while the procurement target for this season has been set at 31 mt, Punjab is expected to provide 11 mt and Madhya Pradesh, 8 mt.
We would be lucky if we match last year's wheat procurement figure of 26 mt, a food ministry official told FE, acknowledging that the government may have overestimated the procurement level. In 2013-14, the government had to scale down the procurement target from 34 mt to 26 mt during the middle of the marketing season (April-June) and eventually ended up purchasing 25 mt of grain from farmers.