New Delhi/Chandigarh: Wheat procurement across the country has declined by 69% so far this year at 38.38 lakh tonnes as arrivals have not yet picked up in the major producing states of Punjab and Haryana.
Food Corporation of India (FCI) had procured 123.62 lakh tonnes of the staple foodgrain in the year-ago period, according to the latest FCI data. Punjab and Haryana had contributed 73.53% of the total procurement in the previous year.
Procurement in major producing states of Haryana and Punjab, which generally starts from 1 April and picks up from 15 April, had been very low till Sunday because of less arrival of crop in the markets due to delay in harvesting.
Punjab, which had procured the maximum 102 lakh tonnes of wheat in 2010, has procured 6.02 lakh tonnes so far as compared to 55.71 lakh tonnes in the corresponding period last year.
Haryana, which was the second largest contributor to the government’s kitty in the 2010-11 marketing year (April-March), has procured only 17.61 lakh tonnes tonnes till Sunday due to delay in harvesting as against 47.60 lakh tonnes in the year-ago period.
According to a report from Chandigarh, wheat procurement in Punjab is 90% down against last rabi marketing season.
The Punjab government has set up 1634 procurement centres and activated its total machinery to ensure smooth procurement of wheat, an official said.
However the prospects of bumper wheat procurement from Punjab and Haryana may get affected with rain along with hailstorm threatening to hit wheat production in both the states.
Experts have asked farmers to wait for two to three days more before setting out for harvesting if rain again lash fields.
“Rain at this stage in not required at all when wheat crop is almost ready for harvesting...inclement weather can cause grain shattering which will in turn affect wheat yield,” a senior official of Punjab Agriculture Department said on Monday.
Rain accompanied by hailstorms lashed at various parts of Punjab and Haryana in past two days including Moga, Phillaur, Samrala, Ludhiana, Gurdaspur in Punjab and Rewari, Mahendragarh, Jind and Sonepat in Haryana.
“These rains will further delay the harvesting of crop,” official said.
Though the exact crop damage could not be ascertained, the field surveys in affected areas have been launched by both state authorities to find out the worst fall out of rains and hailstorms.
Punjab, known as the food bowl of the country is expecting to contribute 110 lakh Metric Tonne of wheat to Central pool, while Haryana expects 65 lakh tonnes of crop.
Before rains and hailstorm, Punjab was anticipating 157 lakh tonnes of wheat output, 4% more than 2010’s production.
Asking wheat growers not to rush for crop harvesting, Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) farm scientists said, “farmers should wait for 2-3 days more for harvesting as threat of rains and hailstorms still loom large otherwise damage to crop could be more,” Punjab Agriculture Universtity Wheat section in charge Indu Sharma said.
“After rains, farmers wait for another day for drying the crop in sunshine (to bring down the moisture content to specifications),” she said.
In Madhya Pradesh, wheat procurement has declined to 14.09 lakh tonnes so far against 17.84 lakh tonnes in the year-ago period even though the state government has declared Rs 100 per quintal more to farmers than the Centre’s minimum support price (MSP) of Rs 1,120 per quintal.
Arrivals of wheat in MP has also declined to 17.47 lakh tonnes so far against 22.48 lakh tonnes in the review period.
In contrast, FCI and other state agencies have bought 1,0843 tonnes of wheat in Gujarat so far against 624 tonnes in the entire 2010-11 marketing year.
The government had procured 22.5 million tonnes of wheat in the entire 2010-11 marketing year (April-March).
The Centre has hiked procurement target by more than 16% to a new high of 26.2 million tonnes in 2011-12 as wheat output is estimated to be a record 84.27 million tonnes in 2010-11 crop year (July-June).