Over 10-mt wheat may be kept in temporary storage

Written by Sandip Das | New Delhi | Updated: Mar 15 2013, 09:08am hrs
States are facing a huge storage crunch, which may force them to keep a substantial portion of grain in temporary facilities, even as FCI and state-owned agencies begin their procurement drive for the 2013-14 marketing season two weeks from now.

Official sources told FE that because of huge carry-forward stocks from the current year, more than 10 million tonne (mt) of wheat is expected to be kept in temporary Covered and Plinth (CAP) facilities.

As reported by FE, the government had wheat stocks in excess of 27 mt at the start of the month, which is far above the requirement, and FCI is targeting purchase of 44 mt during the 2013-14 season.

Key wheat producing states, such as Punjab, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh, are facing an acute storage crunch. Thus, we will be forced to store a large chunk of current years procurement in temporary CAP facilities, a food ministry official said.

CAP storage refers to storage of grain in the open with adequate precautions, such as rat and damp proof plinths, by covering of stacks with especially fabricated polythene covers. FCI has around 30-mt covered storage capacity, which includes those hired and owned by the corporation. Besides, the corporation has 30.52-mt (owned & hired) CAP storage capacity in over 1,820 godowns across the country.

Against strategic reserve and buffer stocks norms of 4 mt and 3 mt, respectively, the governments wheat reserves are far more, which has put enormous pressure on FCI and state government-owned agencies to create space for the new crop.

Official wheat procurement for the current season starts from April 1.

On March 1, the total grain stocks (mostly consisting of wheat and rice) with FCI was reported at more than 62 mt against the norm of 21 mt.

Meanwhile, the food ministry is in touch with the jute bag supplier from West Bengal for ensuring adequate supply of bags so that last years shortage of bags could be avoided.

Opposition parties forced adjournment of the Lok Sabha in May last year on the issue of non-availability of gunny bags to farmers for storage and transportation of grain.

Food minister KV Thomas had accused the Madhya Pradesh government of lack of planning for record wheat procurement in the state.

Madhya Pradesh is aiming at purchase of 13 mt wheat against 8.5 mt last year.

With a surge in procurement during the last few years, Madhya Pradesh is all set emerge as the second biggest contributor of wheat to the central pool this year, surpassing Haryana.

The traditionally key wheat growing states of Punjab and Haryana are aiming at procurement of 14 mt and 7.8 mt, respectively, this year. Uttar Pradesh is set to contribute 5 mt.