The government’s wheat purchase drive for the ongoing rabi marketing season (2017-18) has picked up pace with the Food Corporation of India and state government agencies procuring close to 15 million tonne (MT) since the operations began on April 1. The quantum of wheat procurement till Thursday is 12% more than grain purchased from the farmers during same period last year. Aiming at a higher procurement level of 33 MT compared to last many years during entire rabi procurement season (April – June), food ministry officials said that the agencies are likely achieve target this year while agencies could purchase only 23 MT of wheat in 2016-17 season against the target of 28 MT.
As per data so far, Punjab government agencies such as Pungrain, Punjab Civil Supplies Corporations and others have purchased 5.5 MT of wheat against the current year’s target of 11.5 MT. Similarly, more than 5.4 MT of wheat have been procured by Haryana government, which also contribute significant volume of grain to the central pool, against this year’s target of 7.5 MT. Around one million tonne of wheat is being purchased from farmers daily by paying minimum support price of Rs 1,625 per quintal by agencies. Meanwhile, Madhya Pradesh Civil Supplies Corporation (MPCSC) has purchased 3.4 MT of wheat till Thursday against the target of 8.5 MT for the season.
According to Faiz Ahmed Kidwai, managing director, MPCSC, the state government is expected to purchase wheat from more than 11 lakh farmers and has set up more than 3000 procurement centres for the purpose. “We have created a huge infrastructure where wheat is lifted from the farmers at the centres on a designated dates for reducing delays in the purchase,” Kidwai said. Other key wheat growing states such as Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh have commenced procurement operations recently.
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 Open Market Sale Scheme after procurement gets over. Thanks to higher than normal rabi sowing this year, the government in February had set a wheat procurement target of 33 MT for the 2017-18 rabi marketing season.
This year’s target is 43% higher than last year’s cumulative procurement of wheat from the farmers. The FCI, at present, has virtually no excess stocks of wheat and it was only around 6.8 MT on April 1, which was as per buffer stocks norms. Wheat sowing usually begins in October and harvesting starts from April onwards. This year, wheat has been sown in more than 31.5 million hectare (MH) compared to last year’s 29.2 MH.