Wheat procurement falls 4% despite softer quality norms
Wheat procurement has declined by 4 per cent to 21.73 million tonnes so far this year in spite of the government relaxing quality norms due to crop damage following a recent spell of unseasonal rains and hailstorms.
Wheat procurement was at 22.59 MT in the year-ago peroid. State- owned Food Corporation of India and state agencies undertake wheat procurement operations at the support price, which commenced from April for the 2015-16 marketing year. The government has kept wheat procurement target of 30 MT for the current year, as against the actual procurement of 28 MT in the last year.
“Already, 21.7 MT of wheat has been procured although slightly lower than the year-ago. The purchase is still continuing,” a senior Food Ministry official said. Barring Punjab and Rajasthan, procurement in Haryana and Uttar Pradesh has surpassed previous year’s level, the official said. According to FCI data, wheat procurement in Punjab has declined to 8.88 MT so far this year, as against 10 MT in the year-ago. Similarly, wheat buy from Rajasthan has dropped to 7,07,000 tonnes from 10,27,000 tonnes, while procurement in Madhya Pradesh has fallen slightly to 5.24 MT from 5.31 MT in the review period.
However, wheat procurement in Haryana has risen to 6.25 MT from 6.06 MT, while the purchases in Uttar Pradesh improved to 5,87,000 tonnes from 1,61,000 tonnes in the said period. Wheat procurement has been a big challenge especially in north India as unseasonal rains damaged the crop quality, forcing the government to announced relaxation in quality norms in states like Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Uttarkhand. Recently, Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan had informed Parliament that wheat procurement could slip below the target of 30 MT this year, but the relaxation in wheat quality norms may mitigate impact on procurement.
Of the total target set for this year, Punjab’s share has been fixed at 12 MT, Haryana at 7 MT, Madhya Pradesh at 6 MT and Uttar Pradesh at 3 MT. Wheat production is likely to fall by 4-5 per cent from the initial estimates of 95.76 MT in 2014-15 crop year (July-June) due to unseasonal rains.