Procurement of wheat during the current rabi marketing season (April-June) has crossed 382 lakh tonnes (lt), surpassing the earlier record of 381.5 lt achieved for the 2011-12 crop.
At the minimum support price (MSP) of 1,925 per quintal, the 382.05 lt of wheat bought by the Food Corporation of India (FCI) and state government agencies so far is worth about Rs 73,545 crore. With procurement expected to continue until month-end — the Centre has set a target of 407 lt for the whole season — these numbers may go up significantly.
“The procurement has taken place entirely in the post-lockdown period. The MSP money (Rs 73,545 crore) has also been paid to farmers in the last two months,” a source said.
The coronavirus-induced lockdown was imposed from March 25, while wheat procurement started in Punjab and Madhya Pradesh from April 15 and in Haryana from April 20. For the first time, MP has overtaken Punjab as the largest contributor to the central pool and also delivered the highest quantity (129.28 lt) for a single season by any state (see table).
Wheat procurement till now has exceeded the targets set for MP (129.28 lt versus the target of 100 lt) and Rajasthan (19.24 lt versus 17 lt), while falling short in the case of Punjab (127.12 lt versus 135 lt), Haryana (73.98 lt versus 95 lt), Uttar Pradesh (31.46 versus 55 lt), Bihar (0.05 lt versus 2 lt) and Uttarakhand (0.37 lt versus 2 lt).
But it’s not just wheat.
The National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India and other government agencies have also so far procured 17.57 lt of chana (chickpea), which is worth Rs 8,565 crore at an MSP of Rs 4,875 per quintal. Out of this quantity, 16.91 lt tonnes with MSP value of Rs 8,244 crore has been bought after March 25. Further, they have purchased 7.26 lt of tur/arhar (pigeon-pea), including 2.94 lt after March 25, with their corresponding values at the MSP of Rs 5,800 per quintal amounting to Rs 4,211 crore and Rs 1,705 crore, respectively.
The entire 7.54 lt of rapeseed-mustard procurement till date, worth Rs 3,336 crore at the MSP of Rs 4,425 per quintal, has been post-lockdown.
“If you take the total MSP value of the wheat, chana, tur and mustard procured by government after lockdown, it comes to over Rs 86,800 crore,” the source said. “Adding Rs 16,500 crore-plus direct benefit transfers made under the PM-Kisan Samman Nidhi scheme (as first installment payment of Rs 2,000 to 8.25 crore farmers for April-July 2020) would take this to well above Rs 103,300 crore.
“That is the liquidity pumped into the farm economy by the government alone.”
Given the need to procure the maximum possible grain from farmers and simultaneously ensure physical distancing, a conscious decision was taken to increase the number of purchase centres. “Last year, we had only 1,500 procurement centres for chana and mustard, and 650 in tur. This time, we increased these to 3,190 and 930, respectively. We are likely to end up buying 20-22 lt of chana and 8.5 lt of mustard,” the source said.