The government has set a target of purchasing around 40.7 million tonnes of wheat from farmers this year. This is over 6 million tonnes more than last year due to the all-time high wheat harvest of 107.18 million tonnes in the 2019-20 crop year (July-June) against 103.60 million tonnes in the previous year.
According to data, of the 34.15 million tonnes of wheat procured for the central pool until Sunday, Punjab contributed 12.58 million tonnes of wheat against the target of 14 million tonnes. Procurement from Madhya Pradesh was 11.33 million tonnes against the target of 10 million tonnes.
In Haryana, 7.06 million tonnes of wheat was purchased until Sunday against the target of 7.5 million tonnes. In Uttar Pradesh, just 2.03 million tonnes of wheat has been procured until May 24, against the target of 5.5 million tonnes. The four states account for over 80 per cent of the wheat procured for the central pool.
Though the procurement is still below the target for this year, sources said there is still time as due to the Covid-19 lockdown, wheat procurement
in most parts of the country started almost 15 days late this year. In states like Haryana, it started from April 20 against the usual time of first week of April.
Moreover, even if procurement is slightly less than last year, it will not cause any shortage of cereals as there is ample carryover stocks from last year.
This is despite extra grain distribution under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyana Yojana and for the migrants.
Meanwhile, in case of Uttar Pradesh, sources said procurement has not picked up despite opening up a large number of purchasing Centres, mainly due to social distancing norms and absence of labour.
New centres were set up using every facility available at the gram panchayat level. The numbers were increased sharply in major procuring states like Punjab where it went up from 1,836 to 3,681, 599 to 1,800 in Haryana and from 3,545 to 4,494 in Madhya Pradesh, it said.
It said in addition to the threat of virus spread, the ministry said procuring agencies faced major challenges. The first one was availability of jute bags. As all the mills were closed, production of jute bags used for filling procured wheat stopped, creating a major crisis. The second challenge was to save wheat crops from unseasonal rains in major producing states. The third challenge, the ministry said was the tight labour supply position.