*****Centre agrees to accept 7.5 mt shrivelled wheat already procured, relaxes norms – The Hindu BusinessLine

Clipped from: https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/economy/agri-business/centre-agrees-to-accept-75-mt-shrivelled-wheat-already-procured-relaxes-norms/article65416867.ece

Quality of wheat with shrivelled and broken grains has been relaxed up to 18% from 6% without value cut

Worried over the low level of wheat procurement, the Centre has relaxed quality norms so that at least 7.5 million tonnes (mt) of the grain already purchased can come to the central pool so it is able to meet the demand under various schemes.

The Fair and Average Quality (FAQ) of wheat with shrivelled and broken grains has been relaxed up to 18 per cent without any value cut, Union Food Ministry said in a statement Sunday. “This decision will reduce the hardship of farmers and avoid distress sale of wheat,” the ministry said. The earlier norm was up to 6 per cent.

During 2020-21, relaxation of norms for shrivelled and broken wheat was allowed up to 16 per cent in Punjab, up to 12 per cent in Uttar Pradesh and up to 10 per cent in Haryana. Last year also some relaxation was made for Punjab and Rajasthan, sources said.

Punjab and Haryana governments had last month requested the Centre for relaxation in quality norms and Food Corporation of India (FCI) had suggested the ministry to raise the limit of shrivelled and broken grains to 20 per cent this year.

Preventing conflict

“The decision will help in avoiding unnecessary conflict between the Centre and some States as the government is aware of the fact that wheat having above 6 per cent norm have already been procured and farmers have also received payment. It would have been difficult for procurement agencies to return the grain to farmers, and also not a wise decision in view of low procurement,” said an official source.

According to the ministry, there was presence of shrivelled and broken grains in varying percentages and beyond FAQ norms in samples collected and analysed by central teams that visited Punjab and Haryana in April-May. The emergence of shrivelled grains is a natural phenomenon appearing as a result of the extreme heat wave that enveloped the northern part of the country in March.

On May 14, Food Secretary Sudhanshu Pandey had said the government’s wheat procurement had reached 18 mt in the current year and total purchases could be around 18.5 mt, lower than the revised estimate of 19.5 mt. The initial target of procurement was 44.4 mt.

Wheat procurement was 43.3 mt in 2021-22 fiscal. The total wheat production is expected to be 105-106 mt this year, as against 109.5 mt in 2020-21.

Published on May 15, 2022

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