May 7, 2020
India's wheat procurement to drop 15% due to transport limits
The wheat procurement of India is seen to drop by 15% as the current nationwide lockdown has restricted interstate crop movement in the north-western region, reported The Economic Times.
The bulk of procurement will be completed by next week in Punjab and Haryana despite several challenges, but the shortfall will likely be around 4 million tonnes.
The lockdown has curbed movement of the cereal from neighbouring states to mandis in Haryana and Punjab.
Many farmers in Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, lured by timely payments and better remuneration in Punjab and Haryana, send a large volume of paddy and wheat to these states as they offer a well-established procurement infrastructure.
Despite a shortage of jute bags and labour scarcity, Punjab has procured over 10 million tonnes till Tuesday, but overall it is expected to come down to 12.2-12.5 million tonnes this year compared to 13.7 million tonnes last year.
The state, which was the first to kickstart purchases after a three-week curfew, has so far pumped in over INR10,000 crore as minimum support prices to farmers.
Procurement in Haryana, too, is expected to be impacted as crop arrival in mandis is expected at 6.5 million tonnes compared to 9.5 million tonnes in the previous season.
"The inter-state borders are sealed this year and there is no scope of crop coming from other states," said Pranab Kishore Das, additional chief secretary, Food Civil Supplies & Consumer Affairs.
So far, 4.9 million tonnes have been procured from 3,16,104 registered farmers in the state, he said.
In Uttar Pradesh, the largest wheat growing state, the pandemic has affected wheat procurement and arrivals are 40% less than what it was last year.
"Farmers are facing glitches in transportation and inclined to sell their produce to private traders," a senior official engaged in procurement said.
Around 1.04 million tonnes have been procured till Monday, compared to 1.5 million tonnes in the previous year.
"State government agencies are currently battling the COVID-19 virus outbreak and their involvement is crucial to boost procurement," a senior official of Food Corporation of India said.
Shortage of gunny bags has also clogged mandis across states.
"There is a scramble for even used gunny gags as prices have increased," an official of Punjab's Food Civil Supplies & Consumers Affairs department said.