Govt sets wheat procurement target for 2019-20 at 35.7 million tonne

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Published: February 22, 2019 12:09:21 AM

The Centre has set the wheat procurement target at 35.7 million tonne for 2019-20 (April-March) as the country is expected to harvest a record 100 million tonne of the grain this year, potentially increasing the pressure on state-run Food Corporation of India to liquidate its existing stocks.

Govt targets 35.7-MT wheat procurement for 2019-20Govt targets 35.7-MT wheat procurement for 2019-20

The Centre has set the wheat procurement target at 35.7 million tonne for 2019-20 (April-March) as the country is expected to harvest a record 100 million tonne of the grain this year, potentially increasing the pressure on state-run Food Corporation of India to liquidate its existing stocks.

At a meeting of wheat-producing states, convened by Union food ministry, FCI has been asked to make preparation for the procurement as new crop in Gujarat may start arriving in mandis from next month, officials said. The FCI had 27.1 million tonne of wheat in its reserves as of January 1 this year, highest since 2014 and almost double the buffer norm of 13.8 million tonne.

The actual purchase was 35.8 million tonne last year against the target of 32 million tonne, thanks to the Uttar Pradesh government which has been taking steps to increase procurement to ensure more number of farmers get the benefit of the minimum support price (MSP). The Centre has fixed the wheat MSP at `1,840/quintal, up from `1,735 a year earlier.

After Yogi Adityanath assumed office in Uttar Pradesh in 2017, wheat procurement jumped from 0.8 million tonne in 2016-17 to 3.7 million tonne next year and further to 5.3 million tonne in 2018-19. This has forced FCI to sell the surplus grains in the open market as it is much more than annual requirement of about 30 million tonne under the National Food Security Act.

Agriculture commissioner SK Malhotra said wheat production in 2018-19 crop year (July-June) is likely to cross 100 million tonne, an all-time high, as prolonged winter may help increase yield. “Wheat crops are in a good condition. Recent rains and prolonged winter season will prove to be a boon for the growth of the crop,” Malhotra told reporters on the sidelines of a conference. India had harvested a record 99.70-million tonne wheat in 2017-18.

Sowing of wheat, the main rabi (winter) crop, was at 29.85 million hectare till February 15, nearly the same level as last year. The agriculture commissioner said the increase in production would be led by growth in productivity and not area.

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