Half of wheat purchase target met despite delayed start

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Published: May 7, 2020 6:01:18 AM

The Food Corporation of India (FCI) has been able to buy half of its wheat procurement target of 40.7 million tonne by Wednesday despite a delayed start this year as Punjab has exceeded expectation by purchasing nearly 75% of its target in only 22 days.

While the government has fixed the wheat MSP at Rs 1,925/quintal, traders were buying the grain at about Rs 1,700-1,800/quintal in Gujarat and Rajasthan before the start of the official procurement.While the government has fixed the wheat MSP at Rs 1,925/quintal, traders were buying the grain at about Rs 1,700-1,800/quintal in Gujarat and Rajasthan before the start of the official procurement.

The Food Corporation of India (FCI) has been able to buy half of its wheat procurement target of 40.7 million tonne by Wednesday despite a delayed start this year as Punjab has exceeded expectation by purchasing nearly 75% of its target in only 22 days. States like Uttar Pradesh, meanwhile, will have to make concerted efforts to reach near the targeted procurement.

While the government has fixed the wheat MSP at Rs 1,925/quintal, traders were buying the grain at about Rs 1,700-1,800/quintal in Gujarat and Rajasthan before the start of the official procurement. The open market arrivals were also very low, about 8,000-9,000 tonne per day, against about 40,000 tonne in the year-ago period in Rajasthan, where the crop arrives earlier than Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.

Madhya Pradesh, which had so far seen arrival of 40.28 lakh tonne of wheat, has purchased 39.65 lakh tonne. The slow arrival has been attributed to asking farmers to come in batches to the procurement centres as per capacity to handle so that social distancing is maintained.

Even though the food ministry is hopeful of achieving the targeted procurement, traders and experts said that it could be around 35 million tonne (against 34.13 million tonne last year) as purchases may be much below target in Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan. According to the government estimates, wheat production is estimated at record 106.21 million tonne for 2019-20 crop year (July-June), up 2.5% from a year earlier.

Usually the official procurement starts a few days before April 1, when normal rabi marketing season begins, as the crop arrives early in Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat. This year also, the plan was to start the purchase from around March 22 in these two states. But the procurement was postponed after the announcement of lockdown.

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