New Delhi: Wheat procurement touched a record 207 lakh tonnes by May 22, exceeding the target of 150 lakh tonnes for this year. This development is expected to help government combat inflation that has surged to near 8%.
“This year, we are expecting wheat purchases to reach 215 lakh tonnes,” Food Corporation of India (FCI) chairman and managing director Alok Sinha told PTI.
Last high was recorded in 2001-02 when FCI procured 206.3 lakh tonnes of wheat. The FCI is the nodal agency for procurement and distribution of foodgrains in the country.
Sinha said attractive minimum support price (MSP) is the main reason for the record purchases. Besides, farmers are also satisfied with the arrangements made by FCI which led to 91% procurement of market arrivals this year.
The government is offering MSP of Rs 1,000 per quintal to farmers.
When asked whether FCI could face warehousing problems because of the record purchases, Sinha said, “There is no storage space crunch anywhere in the country.”
He said wheat procured is safe and in good storage condition.
FCI, country’s biggest buyer of foodgrains, had started procurement on a positive note with its wheat stock position reaching 55.49 lakh tonnes as on April 1, compared to the buffer norm of 40 lakh tonnes.
The total procurement by government agencies in 2007-08 was 111.2 lakh tonnes.
Lower procurement during last two years had forced the government to import wheat in a large quantity for meeting the buffer stock requirement.
In 2006, India imported 55 lakh tonnes as internal procurement was only 92 lakh tonnes. Last year also, the procurement fell short of target prompting the Centre to import 18 lakh tonnes.