The wheat purchase by Food Corporation of India (FCI) and state government agencies for the ongoing rabi marketing season (2017-18) from farmers on Wednesday crossed 25 million tonne (mt), which is close to 4 mt more than the volume of grain purchased during the same period previous year. This higher volume of wheat procurement would replenish depleted grain stocks with FCI. According to the food ministry data, Punjab (11 mt), Haryana (7 mt) and Madhya Pradesh (5.1 mt) have purchased a major chunk of wheat from farmers so far since the procurement operations began on April 1. Farmers have brought in more than 28 mt of wheat for procurement to the markets across key growing states, so far.
Sources said that overall procurement of wheat this season is likely to surpass around 30 mt while the food ministry has set a target of 33 mt purchase for the current marketing season (April-June). Only 23 mt was purchased in the previous season (2016-17) by the agencies. The government had hiked the minimum support price of wheat by more than 6% to Rs 1,625 per quintal for the 2016-17 rabi season.
Meanwhile, Uttar Pradesh, which had historically been a laggard in terms of procurement of grain despite being country’s biggest wheat producer, the procurement has reached 1 mt, while the agencies such as Uttar Pradesh Cooperative Federation, FCI, farmers cooperative Nafed, National Cooperative Consumers’ Federation of India are aiming for a record procurement of 4 mt this season.
“We expect procurement to pick up pace during the month and more than 5,000 centres have been opened in the state to purchase wheat from the farmers,” a state government official said. Uttar Pradesh could procure only around 8 lakh tonne of wheat in 2016-17 marketing season while the state had purchased 2.2 mt wheat in 2015-16 season. A food ministry official said that Uttar Pradesh requires around 6 mt wheat annually for allocation under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) and the higher local purchases would help FCI reduce transportation of grain from other states such as Punjab and Haryana to meet the requirement.
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On April 1, FCI had the wheat stock of 8.5 mt against the buffer stocks norm of 6.4 mt. As FCI annually needs around 25 mt of wheat for implementation of NFSA, the agency this season will have enough disposable stocks to be allocated under Open Market Sale Scheme (OMSS) meant for bulk buyers.
The government carries out procurement of rice and wheat for implementation of National Food Security Act and for maintaining buffer stocks. The excess stocks of wheat is subsequently sold to bulk buyers under OMSS after procurement gets over. Meanwhile, an agriculture ministry official said that the wheat production in the current crop year 2017-18 (July-June) is likely to reach a record 98 million tonne while the second advance estimate had pegged the output at 96.64 mt.