After a sharp fall last year, the wheat purchase by Food Corporation of India (FCI) and state government agencies for the ongoing rabi marketing season (2017-18) from farmers on Tuesday crossed 28 million tonne (MT) which is 5 MT more than the volume of grain purchased during the same period previous year. This 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 (11.5 MT), Haryana (7.4 MT) and Madhya Pradesh (6.2 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 31 MT of wheat for procurement to the mandis across key growing states so far. Procurement operations have mostly completed in Punjab and Haryana. 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 of wheat purchase for the current marketing season (April-June). Only 23 MT of wheat was purchased in a previous season (2016-17) by agencies.
The government had hiked the Minimum Support Price of wheat by more than 6% to `1,625 per quintal for the 2016-17 rabi season from the previous year. Meanwhile, Uttar Pradesh, which had historically had been laggard in terms of procurement of grain despite being the country’s biggest wheat producer, the procurement has reached 1.8 MT, while the agencies such as Uttar Pradesh Cooperative Federation, FCI, farmers cooperative Nafed, National Cooperative Consumers’ Federation of India are aiming at all time record of more than 3 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 from farmers while the state had purchased 2.2 MT of wheat in 2015-16 season.
The food ministry official said as Uttar Pradesh requires around 6 MT of wheat annually for allocation under the National Food Security Act (NFSA), the higher local purchases would help FCI in reducing transportation of grain from states such as Punjab and Haryana to meet the requirement. On April 1, FCI had the wheat stock of 8.5 MT against buffer stocks norm of 6.4 MT.
As 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 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.