Wheat procurement drive runs into rough weather as rain delays harvest

Written by Sandip Das | New Delhi | Updated: Mar 29 2014, 09:00am hrs
Erratic rainfall and hailstorm in key growing areas of Punjab, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh are likely to delay the government's wheat procurement drive for 2014-15.

An agriculture ministry official told FE that wheat harvesting would be delayed by a week or 10 days because of the recent rainfall and cool climate prevailing in the last few weeks.

What the crop needs at this stage is warm weather, which helps in ripening. The prevailing cool temperature is not conducive for the standing crop, the official said.

While procurement by the Food Corporation of India (FCI) and state government-owned agencies in Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan is expected to formally commence from April 1, the Madhya Pradesh State Civil Supplies Corporation (MPSCSC) started purchase operations from the third week of March.

According to food ministry data, only 86,000 tonnes of wheat has been purchased by the state agency in Madhya Pradesh till Friday against 3.2 lakh purchased last year.

There has been crop loss and many farmers have delayed harvesting by a week or so. an MP government official said. Madhya Pradesh is aiming at wheat procurement of 8 million tonne (mt) for 2014-15 against 6.3 mt purchased from the farmers in the previous year.

However, due to crop loss because of hailstorms few weeks back, the procurement target may not be met, a state government official said. Last marketing season (2013-14) , Punjab and Haryana contributed 10.8 mt and 5.8 mt to the central grain pool.

For the 2014-15 period, FCI and state agencies in Punjab and Haryana are expected to purchase 11 mt and 6.5 mt, respectively.

A food ministry official said unseasonal rains earlier this month had adversely impacted crops at several places, including Ferozepur, Gurdaspur, Tarn Taran in Punjab and a couple of districts in Haryana. We are expecting a delay in crop arrivals in the mandis by a week or 10 days, the official said. Other states that had set higher procurement target include Uttar Pradesh (3 mt) and Rajasthan (1.8 mt). Last year, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh contributed 1.2 mt and 6.6 lakh tonnes of wheat to the central pool.

The government had earlier set a higher target for procurement of the key foodgrain at 31 million tonne (mt) for the current marketing season. Last year, it had to scale down wheat procurement target from 34 mt to 26 mt and eventually could purchase 25 mt of grain from the farmers.

The government had announced a Rs 50 hike in the minimum support price (MSP) to Rs 1,400 per quintal for wheat procurement.

FCI purchases wheat from farmers for allocating it to states for distribution under the targeted public distribution system (TPDS) and maintaining buffer stocks and strategic reserves norms.

As per the second advance estimate released last week, wheat production is likely to cross a record 95.6 mt in 2013-14 against 93.5 mt achieved previous year.