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Haryana extends wheat procurement date, but supply at mandis dries up

This year, a little less than 50% of the last year’s wheat has been procured in the mandis of Haryana. As per official figures, only as much as 42.74 lakh MT of wheat has been procured till May 19 in the state mandis.

Written by Sukhbir Siwach | Chandigarh |
May 21, 2022 5:26:41 am
PunjabLabourers shifting wheat bags to a shed at a wheat procurement centre. (Express Photo by Jasbir Malhi)

Haryana’s decision to prolong the time for wheat procurement beyond May 16 has met with a tepid response so far with barely any large consignments of the crop arriving at the state mandis during the extend period.

According to state officials, only around 2,000 MT of wheat had been procured during the first four days of the extended period for purchase of the crop.

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This year, a little less than 50% of the last year’s wheat has been procured in the mandis of Haryana. As per official figures, only as much as 42.74 lakh MT of wheat has been procured till May 19 in the state mandis. In 2021, a total 84.93 lakh MT wheat was procured during the entire procurement season. Haryana had set a target to procure 85 lakh tonnes of wheat this Rabi season.

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With the Central government imposing a ban on the export of wheat earlier this month, the Haryana government had decided to continue procurement till May 31, from the earlier set date of May 15. There was an impression among officials that farmers and traders had stored the foodgrain in hopes of a major hike in the prices in the light of the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war. However, in the aftermath of the ban, the prices of wheat in state mandis crashed by almost Rs 200/quintal instead. The government extended the wheat procurement season to offer a chance to farmers who were hoarding the crop hoping to sell it at higher prices under changed circumstances. Officials confirmed that only a few hundred MT of wheat was landing daily at the mandis during the extended period. A senior Haryana government officer, who is closely monitoring the developments, said, “We have reports that there is negligible wheat crop left with the farmers. In these circumstances, there is no point in offering a bonus to the farmer on wheat procurement. Further, the country has adequate buffer stocks of wheat. However, a section of the traders have stored their wheat hoping to profit in the near future.”

Explaining the reasons responsible for lack of storage, the officers said that normally the farmers don’t have proper space for storage of the food grain where they can keep their produce for a long time. BKU leader Rakesh Bains said that the farmers are already under debt and they can’t afford to hold on to the wheat for long because they have to meet the expenditure of their upcoming crops as well. “Because of financial constraints, the farmers have to sell their produce. However, some traders may purchase the crop and then request farmers to hold on to the produce for some time. In this way, the owner of this produce would be the trader who will fetch the profit in case of a hike in the prices,” said Bains.

Another BKU leader, Jagdeep Singh Aulakh, said that this time wheat from neighbouring areas of UP also did not land in Haryana mandis. Aulakh said that because of a hike in the prices, the traders bought the wheat from Uttar Pradesh farmers directly.

The farmer leaders claimed that the adverse weather conditions had hit wheat production very badly. However, a senior official of the Haryana Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Department estimated that the weather impacted the production just by 10-15 per cent. “As per crop cutting experiment in 3,700 fields, we have observed a downfall in wheat production by 12-13 per cent this year, in comparison to last year’s production,” said the official. According to official figures, Haryana mandis have witnessed very slow wheat procurement since the last week of April. Till April 26 this year, as much as 41.10 lakh MT wheat has been procured in mandis, mainly by government agencies. This figure was 70.41 lakh MT in 2021 during the same period.

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