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Why Punjab’s granaries are overflowing: old stock, train suspension

The granaries in Punjab are overflowing with wheat and paddy. Nearly 110 lakh metric tonne of wheat from the last procurement season is still lying in the open and covered godowns.

Written by Kanchan Vasdev | November 25, 2020 10:41:47 am
Punjab, Punjab protests, Delhi Chalo, Punjab foodgrains, Indian ExpressAt a mandi at Lalton Kalan near Ludhiana. (Express Photo: Gurmeet Singh, File)

Punjab’s granaries are overflowing with foodgrains. Though this has remained a perennial problem for the state, this year the suspension of train traffic due to farmers protest added to the miseries of the government miseries that has been at loss to accommodate paddy still arriving at its mandis. The restoration of train traffic has provided a much needed relief. The Indian Express explains:

What is the situation of foodgrains in granaries?

The granaries in Punjab are overflowing with wheat and paddy. Nearly 110 lakh metric tonne of wheat from the last procurement season is still lying in the open and covered godowns. The granaries still have 55 lakh metric tonnes of rice from the last paddy procurement season. The state has only 110-lakh metric tonne capacity under covered space. Nearly 25,000 lakh metric tonne grains from 2017-18 procurement season and 30 lakh metric tonne from 2018-19 procurement season are still lying at the granaries.

How was disruption of trains affecting the granaries?

The train traffic remained disrupted in the state since September 24 when the farmers started blocking railway tracks to protest against Centre’s farm laws. After that, the Union Ministry of Railways suspended the train traffic. This affected the evacuation of granaries also. According to Punjab Food Minister Bharat Bhushan Ashu, had the movement continued, at least 50-60 lakh metric tonnes of grains would have been moved out of the state. With the restoration of train traffic, the state now hopes that evacuation will take place at a faster pace. On Tuesday alone, 35 rakes of grains were sent out to other states.

How much more grain inflow is expected after in the ongoing paddy procurement season?

The state has procured a record 200 lakh metric tonnes of paddy this procurement season. After shelling, at least 140 lakh metric tonnes of rice would need to be stored in covered godowns. As rice is not as hardy a grain as wheat, it needs to be stored in covered spaces. With portions of old stock still lying in the granaries, the state will need lots of space to store rice from this procurement season.

How had the Covid-19 pandemic come as a relief for the granaries?

Evacuation of foodgrains had started at a fast pace after the Centre started distributing foodgrains to the poor and underprivileged during Covid-19 lockdown. In April alone, 30 lakh metric tonnes of grains were evacuated from the state’s godowns. Later 20.48 lakh metric tonnes of grains were evacuated in May, followed by 18.58 lakh metric tonnes in June, 24.17 lakh metric tonnes in July, and 29.03 lakh metric tonnes in August. In September also, 1,000 rakes were sent to other states till the train traffic was disrupted on September 24.

Why has the outward movement been slow?

Ever since other states, including Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, started contributing to the central pool, the outward movement of grains from Punjab has been affected. Punjab averages outward movement of 6-7 lakh metric tonnes of rice every month and 2-3 lakh metric tonnes of wheat every month from the godowns. Had the trains not been disrupted, the evacuation would have been at least five times than the average. 📣 Express Explained is now on Telegram

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