Despite the Centre banning wheat exports from May 13, the Food Corporation has not been able to muster enough of the grain for the Central pool stocks used for distribution through ration shops and meeting any food emergency.
With daily procurement at 1.18 lakh tonnes (lt) on Monday, wheat purchase by the Centre this season reached 185.75 lt as on May 30 against 406.48 lt in the year-ago period, indicating that some more push from the government may help it to get another 5-7 lt before the season ends.
Punjab, where the progressive procurement has been comparatively the best among all the States, has seen 96.2 lt of procurement as against 132.10 lt year-ago.
Export ban impact
The Centre banned wheat exports on May 13 after this year’s crop was reported to be lower and the Food Corporation of India (FCI) procured less than 50 per cent of the volume purchased last year.
When the curb was imposed, the FCI had procured 179 lt. Since then, it has been able to only buy a little over six lakh tonnes only from the growers. The production has been affected after a heatwave swept across the country in March and shrivelled grains in Punjab, Haryana and other States.
Though the Agriculture Ministry has pegged wheat production at over 106 million tonnes (mt) in 2021-22, down by about 3 mt from last year, traders and experts say it might be less than 100 mt.
The Food Ministry has constantly downgraded the target—first to 250 lt, then to 195 lt and finally to 185 lt from the initial 440 lt. Due to lower procurement, the Ministry has cut wheat allocation by about 110 lt to the States, replacing with rice so that the buffer norm is maintained until next year. No allocation has been made for open market sale scheme this year, which is an emergency stock meant to be released in case, prices shoot up.
To continue in M.P., U.P.
While the Punjab government had earlier announced the closure of procurement centres/mandis in phases from May 5, it continued to procure after the ban on exports. The official purchase in Punjab and Haryana ended on May 31, while it would continue until June 10 in Rajasthan and until June 15 in Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, an official said.
Official procurement in MP was at 45.19 lt as on May 30 compared with 127.08 lt a year ago whereas it was 2.87 lt against 39.5 lt in Uttar Pradesh, which is seen as a big setback for the government buffer stock purchase programme. Haryana has seen a procurement of 41.35 lt against 84.93 lt and in Rajasthan, the purchase was 2,048 tonnes against 19.14 lt a year ago, official data show.
Published on May 31, 2022