Govt agencies bought over 88 LMT of wheat from farmers till April 26

Amritsar: Farmers busy winnowing wheatgrains at a wholesale grain market in Amritsar during the extended nationwide lockdown imposed to mitigate the spread of coronavirus.

New Delhi, (Samajweekly) Wheat procurement has gathered steam in the major producing states such as Punjab, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh, while other states, including the countrys largest wheat grower Uttar Pradesh, have also started to buy wheat directly from the farmers at MSP.

The Centre has fixed the minimum support price (MSP) of wheat for the crop season 2019-20 July-June at Rs 1,925 per quintal.

As per the procurement data made available by the Union Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution on Monday, a total of 88.61 lakh metric tonnes (LMT) of wheat have been procured for the central pool till April 26.

The agencies engaged in wheat procurement in Punjab have bought 48.27 LMT of wheat in 11 days after the state commenced procurement of wheat on April 15. In Haryana, 19.07 LMT of wheat has been procured.

Going by the present pace of procurement, the target of 400 LMT set for the season is likely to be achieved, the ministry said in a statement.

Considering the looming threat of the spread of coronavirus, wheat procurement is being undertaken after taking enough precautions and ensuring social distancing in the mandis. Every effort is being made to ensure that the farmers are not put to any kind of distress.

Continuing the healthy pace of dispatch of food grains to the consuming regions, the Food Corporation of India (FCI) has crossed the 2,000-mark in terms of train loads during the lockdown period. Till Monday, a total number of 2,087 train loads carrying about 58.44 LMT of food grain were dispatched to meet the requirements under various schemes of the Government of India.

Unloading of 1,909 rakes carrying 53.47 LMT of stocks was also done during this period, despite severe constraints posed due to declaration of hotspots and containment zones in many of the key unloading centers in the consuming states.

It is expected that with gradual easing of restrictions by the Central and state governments, the pace of unloading will pick up further in the coming days.

Lifting of free food grains to be distributed at 5 kg/person for three months (April to May) under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Ann Yojana (PMGKAY) is progressing well with UTs of Ladakh and Lakshadweep already completing lifting of full quota for three months.

Another seven states are lifting the June month’s quota whereas 20 states are currently lifting the May quota. Eight states are lifting the April quota, which is expected to be completed by the month end.

The FCI has made arrangements to position adequate stocks in all the states to meet the requirements. In the case of West Bengal, where additional allocation for three months is about 9 LMT, plans have already been drawn to move about 227 train loads of rice to various parts of the state concurrently from four states, i.e., Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Odisha.