Riding on a bumper crop, Punjab has procured 130.15 lakh tonnes of wheat this season, the highest in 20 years, surpassing the targets set by the state and the central governments. The feat becomes all the stupendous considering the fact that this year, there was lesser area under wheat crop and the yield in at least 50 per cent of the districts was marred by the unseasonal rain and hailstorms.
In the procurement season that began April 1 and ended May 25, a total of 130.15 lakh tonnes of wheat arrived in the state mandis. Of this 128.50 lakh tonnes of wheat was procured by the government agencies, including Food Corporation of India (FCI), and 1.64 lakh tonnes by the private players, as per the data sourced from Punjab Mandi Board (PMB).
Last year a total of 128.57 lakh tonne wheat had reached the state grain markets, out of which around 126.94 lakh tonne was purchased by the government agencies and 57,000 tonnes by the private players.
Of the total target of procuring 357 lakh tonne wheat from across the country, the Centre had fixed a target of procuring 125 lakh tonnes from Punjab, apart from 85 lakh tonne from Haryana, 75 lakh tonne from Madhya Pradesh, 50 lakh tonne from Uttar Pradesh and 17 lakh tonne from Rajasthan.
Surpassing the target of 35 per cent, Punjab has contributed 36 per cent to the central pool.
This year a total of 35.02 lakh hectare area was under crop against 35.12 lakh hectare last year.
According to PMB till last date of the procurement, 11 out of the 22 districts of Punjab had recorded 3 to 15 per cent less yield. They include Amritsar (3 per cent less), Fatehgarh Sahib (9 per cent), Gurdaspur (10 per cent), Hoshiarpur (17 per cent), Jalandhar (3 per cent), Kapurthala (8 per cent), Ludhiana (8 per cent), Pathankot (15 per cent), Ropar (10 per cent), SAS Nagar (6 per cent), and SBS Nagar (10 per cent).
The 11 districts, which recorded more than 100 per cent yield included Moga (103 per cent), Mansa (109 per cent), Fajilka (108 per cent), Mukatsar (107 per cent) , Bathinda (105 per cent), Barnala (106 per cent), Ferozpur (107 per cent), Faridkot (103 per cent), Tarn Taran (103 per cent), Sangrur (104 per cent), Patiala (103 per cent).
“We have recorded an average wheat yield 51.84 quintal per hectare against 50.77 quintal last year,” said Director, Agriculture, Punjab, Dr Sutantra Kumar Airy. He credited the higher yield to certified seed that provided to the farmers. “There was less yield in most of the Doaba and Majha region districts and bumper yield in the Malwa region,” he said, adding that around 181-182 lakh tonne production is expected against 178 lakh tonne last year. The entire produce does not come to mandis as farmers keep some for self consumption, as seed or to sell to the private players as when they need money.
“The record production is the result of favourable weather conditions till harvesting. It was during the harvesting season that rain played spoil spot in several districts, affecting the yield in half of the districts of state,” said Airy.
The statistics from Punjab Agriculture department reveal that the state had contributed to the national pool 108 lakh tonne, 113.8 lakh tonne, 109 .13 lakh tonne, 106.34 lakh tonne, 117 lakh tonne and 127 lakh tonne in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018, respectively.