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Sunday, May 16, 2021

In Punjab mandis, a wheat glut as agencies fail to clear procured crop

During the first five days of the procurement season, Punjab has witnessed 20.57 lakh tonnes (over two million tonnes) of wheat arriving in mandis across the state. Out of this, 16.63 lakh tonnes has been purchased by the government agencies.

Written by Anju Agnihotri Chaba | Chandigarh |
April 16, 2021 5:39:02 am
A farmer works on a thresher as harvested wheat crop is piled up, in Ludhiana, Thursday. (Express Photo by Gurmeet Singh)

The tardy lifting of the wheat from Punjab’s mandis is now threatening to create a glut like situation in the coming days if heavy arrival harvested crop in the grain markets is any indication. On Wednesday, 7. 58 lakh tonnes wheat arrived in mandis across Punjab which means that in the coming days the daily arrival would be much higher. This could lead to a situation where farmers will struggle to find place for their crop inside the grain markets.

During the first five days of the procurement season, Punjab has witnessed 20.57 lakh tonnes (over two million tonnes) of wheat arriving in mandis across the state. Out of this, 16.63 lakh tonnes has been purchased by the government agencies. However till Wednesday, over 88 per cent of the purchased wheat was lying in the mandis as only 1.96,000 tonnes of wheat was moved out by the government agencies to their storage places. As of now, 14.68 lakh tonnes of purchased wheat is still lying in the mandis.

Out of the state’s 22 districts, five districts — Sangrur, Patiala, Mansa, Ferozepur and Bathinda — have witnessed 66 per cent of the total arrival of wheat.

There are eight districts out of total 22 where 100 per cent purchased wheat is lying in the mandis, while in 10 districts 91 per cent to 99 per cent purchased wheat has not been lifted till date. In the remaining districts, 84 per cent to 89 per cent wheat is lying in the mandis.

Punjab Mandi Board (PMB) data showed that maximum wheat is lying in mandis in districts like Sangrur, Patiala and Ferozepur where 2.66 lakh tonnes, 2.48 lakh tonnes and 1.03 lakh tonnes, respectively, is yet to be shipped out.

Apart from this, 1.03 lakh tonnes is lying in Mansa mandis, 1.05 lakh tonnes in Bathinda and 1.04 lakh tonnes in Faridkod grain markets.

Among the five government purchase agencies, FCI has lifted .37% out of 45346 tonnes purchased by it. While Punjab State Warehousing Corporation’s grain movement is second lowest as it has only lifted 9.7 per cent of its total purchase. It has transported 24,090 tonnes out of total purchase of 2.46 lakh tonnes. Markfed’s lifting is just 42, 227 tonnes out of 3.97 lakh tonnes, which comes to 10.62 per cent. Punsup’s lifting percentage is 12.30 per cent with 50141 tonnes shipped out of 4.07 lakh tonnes purchased. Pungrain has purchased 5.65 lakh tonnes and only 78374 tonnes was lifted, which is just 13.85 per cent.

President of the Arhtiya Association, Khanna mandi, which is largest mandi of the region, Harbans Singh Rosha said that the lifting of the wheat from the mandis must be started immediately otherwise there would be no place to keep the daily arrival of wheat in the coming days leading to harassment of hapless farmers.

213 complaints

Meanwhile for hassle-free procurement, PMB has already set up a control room to answer queries and handle complaints.

“We have got 213 queries/complaints in the past five days including 135 on Wednesday and all have been addressed,” said a senior officer in PMB, adding that despite allowing limited entry in the mandis to maintain social distancing, the state has started receiving heavy quantity of wheat because wheat has already ripened across the state and every farmers is in a hurry to bring his crop to the mandis. He said that entire harvested wheat would be in mandis in just 2-3 weeks and the government agencies must clear the space in mandis otherwise there would be a major glut.

He said that both farmers and labourers are trying their best to maintain social distancing.

Direct payment woes

While the Punjab government had said that farmers would get MSP amount in bank within 48 hours of procurement, but authorities have failed to do so even after five days. The government has already purchased wheat worth Rs 3284 crore this season.

President of Federation of Arhtiya Association Punjab, Vijay Kalra, said that procurement is going on in a massive manner and the payments will start going to farmers’ accounts from Thursday onward because there was holiday on Wednesday. “Trails were conducted in Rajpura and Chamkaur Sahib mandis to transfer the money to the accounts of few farmers, and farmers may start receiving the money in their accounts from tomorrow,” said Rajpura Mandi Sources.

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