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Punjab sees record wheat procurement in over a decade, may breach its own purchase target for the year

Estimates showed that at the current rate, the state government was expected to cross its own procurement target set for this year.

Written by Anju Agnihotri Chaba | Jalandhar |
Updated: May 12, 2021 9:29:41 am
Wheat procurement at Jalandhar Mandi

It has been a bumper season for wheat farmers across Punjab this year, with the state having so far purchased more than 129 lakh metric tonnes of the crop — the highest in a decade and possibly the highest ever in its history — with still some time to go before the procurement season ended.

Estimates showed that at the current rate, the state government was expected to cross its own procurement target set for this year.

According to records of Punjab Mandi Board (PMB), the state and government agencies have purchased 129.63 lakh metric tonnes (lmt) wheat from Punjab’s mandis till May 11 this year. On Tuesday, 60,000 tonnes of wheat had arrived across the state’s mandis, with the arrival of the crop likely to continue for the next few days.

Officials and farmers both expressed delight over this record procurement and said that they may cross the 13 million tonnes procurement target that had been set for this year.

As per records of the National Procurement agency, Punjab has never seen this much procurement of wheat ever before.

The Food Corporation of India’s (FCI) past 10 years’ statistics about wheat procurement from Punjab for the Central pool (marketing season wise) showed that, around 102.08 lmt was procured in 2010-11, 109.58 lmt in 2011-12, 128.34 lmt in 2012-13, 108.97 lmt in 2013-14, 116.41 lmt in 2014-15, 103.44 lmt in 2015-16, 106.49 lmt in 2016-17, 117.06 lmt in 2017-18 , 126.92 lmt in 2018-19, 129.12 lmt in 2019-20 and 127.14 lmt in 2020-21. This year’s procurement figures of 129.63 lmt (till date) had already broken the above mentioned records.

As per records of the National Procurement agency, Punjab has never seen this much procurement of wheat ever before. FCI sources said that Punjab’s procurement was under 100 lmt till 2009-10, whereafter it breached the three-figure mark to touch 1o2.78 lmt in 2010-11.

Experts said that in Punjab, farmers are growing high yield varieties of wheat and the average yield of these are between 50 to 53 kg per hectare. This year’s initial crop cutting experiments showed that despite good weather conditions (barring in the last leg of the crop season, when the weather turned a little warm) the yield was around 49 kg per hectare only. They added that the final yield results are yet to be collected from across the state.

“As some farmers protested at Delhi’s border against the three contentious farm laws, it was a sign of great relief to know that others had stepped in and contributed this much amount of grain to the national pool. The Centre must rethink its laws and sort out the entire issue soon,” said farmer leader Jagmohan Singh, General Secretary of BKU Dakaunda, adding that the Centre must not forget the contribution that Punjab was making to fill the grain godowns of the country.

This year, records showed, private purchasers had not shown much interest in procurement as only 6,000 tonnes was bought by private players.

“This season, harvesting was on time and farmers got Rs 1,975 MSP per quintal for wheat. Farmers brought more wheat to the mandis as they wanted to sell it to the government agencies as soon as possible and go back and join the protests against the three laws. This helped increase the procurement,” said a senior Food and Civil Supplies officer of Punjab.

The total production of wheat in Punjab is expected to reach around 170 lmt against 175 lmt last year. The entire crop does not come to mandis — as farmers keep some for self consumption, seed purpose and to sell the private players directly instead of bringing to the grain market. Punjab dedicates around 35 lakh hectares for cultivation of the wheat crop in the state.

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