Wheat procurement has picked up pace in the last two weeks after the Centre relaxed norms on quality of grain being purchased from the farmers.
Till now, close to 22 million tonne (MT) of wheat has been purchased by the Food Corporation of India and state government-owned agencies, which is marginally lower than the volume of procurement achieved during same period last year.
The harvesting of wheat was delayed this year due to unseasonal rain and hailstorm. Consequently, the procurement drive only started three weeks behind usual commencement of April 1.
Sources told FE that the wheat purchase during the current marketing season (2015 -16) could reach 26 MT while the government has fixed target at 30 MT. The agencies had purchased 28 MT of wheat during 2014-15 marketing season.
In the last few weeks, the food ministry following the request from the states — Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh — had given relaxation in quality norms for wheat with respect to luster loss and increase in quantum of shriveled and broken grains being purchased from the farmers by agencies.
In Punjab, which contributed more than 12 million tonne of wheat to the central pool last year, the agencies have procured 8.8 million tonne of wheat till Wednesday.
Haryana, a key contributor to the central grain pool, which had scaled down its wheat procurement target to 6.5 million tonne from earlier 7 million tonne because of untimely rains, has procured more than 6.2 million tonne of the grain till now.
Madhya Pradesh, which carries out its own wheat procurement on behalf of FCI, has so far purchased 6.6 million tonne of grain which is higher than previous year.
This year, the state has abolished bonus on the minimum support price (MSP) given to farmers following the directives from the Centre.
Other key contributors to the central pool include Rajasthan (0.7 million tonne) and Uttar Pradesh (0.5 million tonne).
Meanwhile, FCI has ruled out any crisis. “There is no cause of concern because of expected decline in procurement as FCI has carried forward wheat stocks of more than 17 million tonne from the last year which is far above buffer stock norms,” an FCI official said.