Uttar Pradesh, usually a laggard in wheat procurement despite being the biggest grain producer, has purchased a record 3 million tonne (MT) of grain from farmers so far in the ongoing rabi marketing season (2017-18). This would help reduce FCI’s operational costs as substantially lower volumes of grain need to be transported from surplus states like Haryana and Punjab to meet UP’s requirement of grain under the National Food Security Act (NFSA). Food ministry officials told FE that wheat procurement by various agencies such as FCI, Uttar Pradesh Cooperative Federation, farmers cooperative Nafed, National Cooperative Consumers’ Federation of India will continue till June 15 in the state and overall purchase from the farmers would be around 3.5 MT while the most populous state needs around 6 million tonne for implementation of NFSA. “Arrival of wheat in the mandis is still on and the total procurement would come close to 3.5 MT, which would be a record in itself. Moreover, it would take care of almost 60% of the state’s annual wheat requirement under Public Distribution System (PDS),” said a state government official. The state government official said the record procurement would help FCI to substantially reduce transportation costs for its UP operations, which it usually spends for transporting the grain from states such as Punjab and Haryana”.The increase in wheat procurement in Uttar Pradesh has benefited 671,448 farmers, who have already been paid more than Rs 4,943 crore as Minimum Support Price at the rate of of Rs 1,625 per quintal fixed by the Centre. The state government had also announced an additional `10 per quintal to farmers for loading and unloading charges.
“In the absence of proper procurement by government agencies and FCI, farmers usually sell their produce in the open market through the arthiyas, who pay them much less than the MSP”, said an official. Meanwhile, after a sharp fall last year, the wheat purchase by FCI and state government agencies for the ongoing rabi marketing season (2017-18) from farmers till Wednesday has crossed 30.16 MT which is 7 MT more than the volume of grain purchased during the same period previous year. Officials said that the higher volume of wheat procurement this season would replenish depleted grain stocks with FCI and allow the corporation to sell excess stocks through Open Market Sale Scheme (OMSS) for the bulk buyers.
According to food ministry data, Punjab (11.7 MT), Haryana (7.4 MT) and Madhya Pradesh (6.7 MT) have purchased a major chunk of wheat from farmers so far since the procurement operations began on April 1. On May 1, FCI had the wheat stock of 27.58 MT which matches the buffer stocks norms for July 1. FCI annually needs around 24-25 MT of wheat for implementation of NFSA, the corporation this season will have enough disposable stocks to be allocated under OMSS. The government carries out procurement of rice and wheat for implementation of NFSA and for maintaining buffer stocks. The excess wheat is subsequently sold to bulk buyers under OMSS after procurement gets over.