The government’s wheat procurement drive in the current rabi marketing season (2015-16) is set to cross 25 million tonne soon. According to the latest data, government bodies such as Food Corporation of India (FCI) and state government-owned grain purchase agencies have lifted more than 24.78 million tonne wheat across the key growing states since the purchase season began last month.
Sources said the wheat buying would continue for next two weeks and by that time over 26 million tonne wheat would have been purchased.
Last year, the government agencies managed to lift 28 million tonne wheat. This year, a dip in wheat purchase was expected as unseasonal rains in March had affected the crop.
In last few weeks, the food ministry, on request from Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh, had relaxed the quality norms of wheat with respect to luster loss and increase in quantum of shrivelled and broken grain purchased from the farmers.
“Relaxation given by the food ministry had led to increase in wheat procurement in many states,” said an official.
The agencies have procured 10 million tonne wheat in Punjab so far against more than 12 million tonne that the state contributed to the central pool last year.
Meanwhile, Haryana, a key contributor to the central grain pool that had scaled down its wheat procurement target to 6.5 million tonne from previous 7 million tonne because of unseasonal rains, has procured more than 6.6 million tonne of grain so far.
Madhya Pradesh, which carries out its own wheat procurement on behalf of FCI, has so far purchased 6.4 million tonne of grain which is higher than the previous year. The wheat procurement Madhya Pradesh had not been affected as the state had abolished bonus on the minimum support price (MSP) given to farmers following the directives from the Centre.
“There is no cause of concern because of the expected decline in procurement as FCI had carried forward wheat stocks of over 17 million tonne from the last year which is far above the buffer stock norms,” said an FCI official.
According to the third advance estimate released by the agriculture ministry, the wheat production this year is estimated at 90.78 million tonne, which is lower by 5.07 million tonne than the record production of 95.85 million tonne in 2013-14.