In a bid to provide relief to farmers hit by unseasonal rain and hailstorm, the Centre has decided to reimburse state governments the amount of value-cut imposed on the purchase of wheat.
“As various state governments have decided to bear the amount of value-cut imposed on wheat being procured from the farmers by the FCI and state agencies under relaxed specifications in the current season, the reimbursement of this amount will be made to the states through FCI,” an official statement issued after a Cabinet meeting has stated.
In the last few weeks, the food ministry following request from the states — Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh — had given relaxation in quality norms of wheat with respect to luster loss and increase in quantum of shriveled and broken grains being purchased from the farmers by agencies.
A food ministry official told FE that some minor value-cut equivalent to R3.63 per quintal from R1,450 per quintal MSP was imposed on the grains not adhering to food ministry’s revised quality norms.
The food ministry had imposed a nominal value-cut on wheat procured under relaxed specifications, so that ‘separate marking and stocking of such stock and its utilisation on priority could be ensured’.
The purpose of relaxed norms was to ensure that the farmers in key wheat growing states such as Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh get the entire MSP for the wheat sold to Food Corporation of India (FCI) and state government-owned agencies irrespective of their quality.
Till now, the government agencies have purchased 15.86 million tonne of wheat in the current rabi marketing season in various states as against the purchase of 16.92 million tonne during same period previous year.
Usually the wheat procurement commences from April 1. But this year due to unseasonal rains, harvesting got delayed by at least three weeks and the grain procurement picked up two weeks back.
The states, which have contributed significantly to the wheat procurement drive, include Punjab (5.6 million tonne), Haryana (5.1 MT) and MP (4.1 MT). Although the government is aiming a wheat procurement of 30 MT this year, actual procurement could drop to around 25 MT.
On the issue of higher moisture content in the harvested wheat crop, food minister Ram Vilas Paswan had earlier said crop having a moisture content up to 14% would be purchased by agencies from the farmers.
“Under the Food Safety and Standard Act, moisture content of 14% in the grain is maximum permissible for human consumption and this cannot relaxed further,” he had stated. Paswan had also stated that no states had asked for relaxation in moisture content norm in wheat crops so far.
As per the ministry data, wheat crop in around 3.8 million hectare have been damaged due to rains.