Wheat procurement may slow down for a brief period after many parts of north India received unseasonal rains and hailstorm on Wednesday, wetting the grains lying on the field. The farmers will now have to wait to dry the crop before selling it to the government.
“They have to wait so that moisture content in the grain comes down. Even if the grain is covered with plastic sheets, moisture content will be definitely higher in some of it,” Ram Gupta, a trader in Aligarh district said. A severe dust storm, followed by thunder showers, hit parts of Uttar Pradesh, including Agra and Mathura, and Rajasthan on May 2, killing over 70 people and leaving a trail of destruction.
The Centre has set a target to procure 32 million tonne wheat in 2018-19 rabi marketing season (April-March). The official purchase has increased 12.5% to 28.2 million tonne as of May 3 compared with 25.07 million tonne in the corresponding period last year, according to Food Corporation of India (FCI) data.
This year, the arrival has also shown an increase from last year as in many places wheat was harvested earlier as compared to 2017. According to FCI, the mandi arrival of wheat is estimated at 29.83 million tonne as of May 3, up from 28.22 million tonne in the year-ago period.
Procurement in Punjab, which contributes the highest quantity to the central pool, has reached 11.8 million tonne as of May 3 and the target is to buy 11.9 million tonne from the state. The arrival of wheat will start declining from May 10, which is a normal phenomenon every year, said Veena Sharma, secretary of Roller Flour Millers’ Federation of India. Currently, the daily arrival in Punjab is over 1 lakh tonne.
Out of 8.16 million tonne of wheat that has arrived in various mandis, the FCI has been able to procure the entire quantity through state agencies for the central pool stock. The procurement in Haryana has already crossed the target of 7.4 million tonne. The daily arrival in Haryana is around 60,000 tonne.
FCI, last year, had bought a total of 7.43 million tonne of wheat in the entire season. Uttar Pradesh has purchased 2.04 million tonne as of May 3, compared with 0.98 million tonne in the year-ago period. The total procurement in UP was 3.7 million tonne and experts said there is a scope of procuring another 3 million tonne in the state. Madhya Pradesh is the only major state where the procurement has slipped to 5.08 million tonne from 5.17 million tonne in the review period.