Less than a month since the advent of the new rabi season, purchases of wheat, the key rabi cereal, by the Food Corporation of India and other nodal agencies have crossed the halfway mark against the target set for the season. Rabi season procurement usually begin in early April and last for a little over three months.
Till now, the Food Corporation of India (FCI) and state agencies have purchased 22.23 million tonnes (MT) of wheat, as against 7.76 MT during corresponding period of last year, according to food ministry sources. The procurement, following the usual pattern, has been highest in Punjab (8.4 MT or 37.8% of the target) despite a late start from April 10. Haryana ranks a close second at 7.2 MT, or 32.27% of the target, followed by Madhya Pradesh (5.2 MT, 23.2% of the set target). The procurement in Uttar Pradesh, the biggest producer of wheat, stands at 0.77 MT, higher than year-ago period.
Even as sections of the farming community are fearing that new farm laws would destroy the minimum support price (MSP) system, the country is geared up for record wheat procurement at MSP in the current rabi season. Going by the pace of procurement and prevailing low market rates, the government may end up buying more than the target, which will put pressure on it to liquidate the stocks.
This time around, the funds are being transferred directly to the farmers’ bank accounts, throughout the country. Even Punjab joined the system, ending initial confusion over the manner of paying MSP to farmers in the state due to the state government’s reluctance to embracing the direct bank transfer system.
Wheat procurement last year started a fortnight later than its normal schedule of 1st April due to the lockdown and pace was slow because of social-distancing norms. This year, about Rs 8,180 crore has already been transferred directly into farmers’ accounts in Punjab and about Rs 4,668 crore in Haryana.
About 21.17 lakh wheat farmers have already been benefitted from the ongoing procurement operation across the country. The MSP value of wheat crops purchased in the country so far in the current season is about Rs 43,912 crore.