While the government has fixed the wheat MSP at Rs 1,925/quintal, traders are buying the grain at about Rs 1,700-1,800/quintal in mandis in Gujarat and Rajasthan.
After purchasing about 3,000 tonne of wheat on the first day, Punjab procured around 90,000 tonne of the grain directly from farmers at the minimum support price (MSP) on Thursday. Arrivals at procurement centres in other states are yet to pick up after mandis were opened for trading from April 15.
The procurement on April 15 was about 5,000 tonne, mainly from Punjab and Madhya Pradesh, compared with 18 lakh tonne in the year-ago period. Due to delayed start and enforcement of social distancing, the Food Corporation of India (FCI) has been monitoring the procurement at the top level, food ministry officials said. The government needs to be very cautious so that farmers get the MSP benefit.
While the government has fixed the wheat MSP at Rs 1,925/quintal, traders are buying the grain at about Rs 1,700-1,800/quintal in mandis in Gujarat and Rajasthan. Rates are expected to increase as official procurement picks up. Open market arrivals are also very low – about 8,000-9,000 tonne per day in Rajasthan, against 40,000 tonne in the year-ago period.
Madhya Pradesh, which had daily arrivals of 1.3-1.5 lakh tonne of wheat during this time last year, recorded just 6,500 tonne in mandis on April 15. The state procured entire 1,917 tonne for the central pool that reached its purchase centres (not mandis) on Wednesday. The procurement in Uttar Pradesh was only about 200 tonne while daily arrival was about 10,000-12,000 tonne.
Meanwhile, in a video interaction with the food processing secretary, flour millers (which process 22-24 million tonne of wheat annually) have assured the government that they would keep running their plants against all odds to overcome any shortage of wheat flour in the market. The Roller Flour Millers’ Federation of India has requested the Centre to prevail upon the state governments to keep the APMC Act in abeyance temporarily so that millers can directly buy wheat from farmers without visiting mandis. Apart from atta and sooji, flour mills also make maida, which is the key raw material of many of the processed food products like bread, biscuit and noodles.