Rain hits wheat quality; state may miss procurement target - ECAS Punjab

Rain hits wheat quality; state may miss procurement target

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Ruchika M Khanna

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 26

With wheat grain shrivelled at many places because of untimely rains, its procurement could be less than the target of 135 lakh metric tonnes (LMT).

The produce arrived in many mandis of Patiala, Fatehgarh Sahib and Mohali has been found to be shrivelled, which could lead to a fall in procurement by 5-10 LMT. A central team of analysts that undertook a tour of the rain-affected areas last week has submitted its report, saying that the percentage of shrivelled grain in these three districts vary between 15 and 30 per cent.

Official sources in the Food and Civil Supplies Department say up to 6 per cent of shrivelled grain is permissible for procurement at the MSP. This time, because of the spread of Covid-19 pandemic, the Centre could make some relaxation without imposing a value cut. "The issue is to be decided by the Centre in a day or so," said KAP Sinha, Principal Secretary, Food and Supplies.

Last year, a value cut of Rs 4.60 per quintal was imposed on wheat procured in six districts after untimely rains led to shrivelling of grain.

Meanwhile, with over 49.36 LMT wheat arrivals in state mandis till this evening, there is a glut-like situation. This is not just because of the shortage of labour, but also because the initial shortage of gunny bags

Sinha said, "Traditionally, the state government builds a capacity of lifting a maximum of 6 LMT of grain a day. On an average, 6.5 LMT of wheat is arriving. We do not have the specialised labour this time because of the lockdown." He, however, claimed that they were building the capacity to lift and transport the grain faster.

He also admitted that there was a shortage of gunny bags, as jute mills in West Bengal were shut. "We have now allowed one-time used bags. This process has started and soon the crop will be stored and lifted," he said.

Relax purchasing norms, says BKU

Moga: Untimely rain here on Sunday drenched thousands of bags of wheat in the local grain market and those in the adjoining areas, adding to the miseries of farmers. Farmers said the shortage of tarpaulin at the local market was the main reason for the bags getting drenched. Sukhdev Singh Kokrikalan, general secretary of the BKU (Ekta-Ugrahan), said: "The state government must allow relaxation in procurement norms." TNS



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