Updated: April 21, 2021 10:21:22 am
In the first 10 days of the procurement season in Punjab, the state has already procured 37 per cent (around 4.8 million tonnes) of the total expected procurement of 13 million tonnes of wheat this a year. While till April 19, 53.33 Lakh Million Tonnes (LMT) of wheat had arrived in Punjab’s mandis, 90 per cent of this figure was purchased but 71 per cent is yet to be lifted from the mandis. One reason for slow lifting that is being cited by authorities is record arrival.
Last year, only 36.66 LMT wheat had arrived in mandis in first ten days of procurement this time last year compared to 53.33 LMT this year.
Till April 19, 2019, during that procurement season, only 1.79 LMT had reached mandis.
This year, a total of 47.91 LMT has already been purchased which amounts to 90 per cent of the total arrival, while lifting of only 14.01 LMT has been done till now and the rest 33.90 LMT is yet to be lifted which amounts to 71 per cent of the total arrival.
Daily around 8 LMT wheat is arriving in the state’s mandis including 7.33 LMT on Monday despite the fact that government is issuing the daily passes to farmers to avoid the rush so as to adhere the norms under Covid-19, but still many farmers are coming out of turn because of the harvesting of their crop and no space to keep it at home.
Talking about the slow lifting process, Ravi Bhagat, secretary PMB said, “Arrival of wheat in mandis is at an enormous speed and there is some gap in labour in mandis due to Covid. We can say that some labour shortage is there in mandis and at the same time, we need to follow all protocols to get lifting done. However, the majority of the stock has been procured by the government and farmers have been paid in their accounts.”
Meanwhile, Sangrur district topped the list with the 6.66 lakh metric tonnes (LMT) purchase (where already 7.24 LMT has arrived in the mandis), followed by Patiala with 5.35 LMT (5.66 LMT arrival), and Ludhiana with 3.86 LMT against arrival of 4 LMT in mandis. In Ferozepur, Bathinda, Moga and Mansa 3.70 LMT, 3.05 LMT, 3.03 LMT and 2.93 LMT, respectively, has been procured.
Mukatsar and Faridkot also witnessed high purchase with 2.88 LMT, 2.33 LMT, respectively. Fazilka and Jalandhar witnessed 2.01 LMT purchased each. Barnala has procured 1.69 LMT, Fatehgarh Sahib (1.46 LMT), Kapurthala (1.12 LMT) and Tarn Taran procuring 1.09 LMT.
Pathankot district has witnessed the lowest purchase with just 8,320 LMT. President of Federation of Arhtiya Association Punjab, Vijay Kalra, said that everything is going on in a smooth manner and the payments are being made directly in the accounts of the farmers.
So far, total of 8,78,791 passes have been issued to farmers till now, while over 12 lakh farmers are expected to come in Punjab’s mandis this season.
PMB officials said that all the expected arrival is likely to wind up in the first week of May.
“Farmers are in a hurry to bring stock to mandis. Firstly, due to inclement weather and second, harvesting is going on amid farmers’ protests against farm laws and hence farmers want to wind up harvesting operations. In addition to this, weather is a major factor this year as temperature increased and the crop ripened fast. We are experiencing loss in yield as well in many districts, we will be evaluating it later on,” said Jasvir Singh, a Bathinda-based farmer.
There were some reports of shortage of vardana (gunny bags) from some mandis, but the officials of the food department said that there is no shortage at all.
K A P Sinha, principal secretary, Food and Civil Supplies, informed: “There is no shortage of vardana in Punjab as actual requirement is of 5.24 lakh bales out of which 2.65 lakh bales are available till last Wednesday and 90,000 bales of PP and 50,000 bales of jute in transit and rest used bags permission already available with the state.”
“There is less labour in mandis for unloading of crop. This can be termed as flaw of PMB and at the same time, transporter is not picking the packed stuff from mandis. Both links need to be checked by PMB,” said H S Rosha, former president of Khanna Ahrtiya Association.
Punjab Food, Civil Supplies & Consumer Affairs Minister Bharat Bhushan Ashu on Tuesday informed that under the Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) scheme, direct payments worth more than Rs 2,600 crore have been made to accounts of farmers till date. He said that payments worth Rs 1,141 crore were cleared till Monday and payments worth a total of Rs 4,200 crore would be cleared by Wednesday.
On storage bags, Ashu said that due to Covid-19 and elections in West Bengal, many of the jute mills are shut, leading to shortage. He assured that both procurement as well as lifting would pick up in the coming days.
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