Against last years wheat purchase of close to 39 million tonne, this year, the Food Corporation of India (FCI) and state government-owned bodies would begin buying wheat from farmers from April 1.
Following a meeting of food secretaries of key wheat-growing states on Monday, the government has announced a 15% increase in the new procurement target despite a marginal fall in country's key foodgrain output by 2.6 mt to 92.3 mt.
A food ministry official told FE that due to a bumper wheat output of 16.2 mt for Madhya Pradesh, this year, the central Indian state is expected to increase its purchase to 13 mt from 8.5 mt in the previous year. This is a significant jump of more than 52%.
With a surge in procurement during the last few years, Madhya Pradesh is all set to emerge as the second- biggest contributor of wheat to the central pool this year, surpassing Haryana. Even states that are not traditional proucers of wheat, such as Rajasthan, are targeting wheat purchase in excess of 2.5 mt this year against around 2 mt last year.
The additional R100-per-quintal bonus, along with a minimum support price (MSP) of R1,285 per quintal announced for 2012-13 and conducive weather conditions, have pushed up MP and Rajasthans contribution to the wheat-procurement drive.
We have been providing bonus to wheat farmers over the last few years and we want to become the single biggest contributor of wheat to the central pool in the next few years, chief minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan had told FE earlier
The traditional wheat-growing states of Punjab and Haryana are aiming at procurement of 14 mt and 7.8 mt, respectively, this year while last year purchases were to the tune of 12.8 mt and 8.6 mt, respectively. Uttar Pradesh is set to contribute 5 mt to the wheat-procurement drive.
This year, the government is gearing up to buy wheat at an MSP of R1,350 per quintal from farmers by increasing the number of purchase centres from 10,000 to 12,000. In order to ensure immediate payments to farmers on delivery of wheat, a food ministry official said that states have been asked to make available adequate funds for procurement agencies and farmers should be paid via cheques.
FCI purchases wheat from farmers for allocating it to states for distribution under the targeted public distribution system (TPDS) and for maintaining buffer stocks and meeting strategic reserves norms.
Wheat is a winter crop and is mainly grown in Punjab, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan. The annual domestic consumption of wheat is around 76 mt.