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Wheat Procurement Rises To 64.79 Lakh Tonnes, Says Food Secretary

On the Delhi government's doorstep delivery of ration to PDS (Public Distribution System) beneficiaries, he said the law clearly states that ration should not be supplied at any increased rate.

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The government's wheat procurement has increased to 64.79 lakh tonnes so far in the ongoing 2021-22 marketing year that began this month, with maximum purchases from Haryana, Food Secretary Sudhanshu Pandey said on Thursday.

In the year-ago period, only 60 tonne was procured, while in the previous year of 2019-20 about 12 lakh tonne grain was procured, he said.

Normally, wheat procurement begins from April 1 but it differs in some states depending on the climate conditions.

For instance in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh, procurement began from March 15 this year while in Rajasthan and Haryana, it was from April 1. In Punjab, it was from April 10 and in Bihar, it will start from April 20, he added.

'About 64.79 lakh tonnes of wheat have been procured till April 14 as against 60 tonnes in the year-ago (period) and 12 lakh tonnes in the previous year (in same period)' Pandey said at a virtual press conference.

Huge quantity of wheat is being purchased and the reports of low procurement is 'baseless' and without any 'truth', he emphasised.

Wheat worth Rs 12,800 crore has been purchased so far at a minimum support price of Rs 1,975 per quintal. Until now, 6,60,593 farmers from 11 states have benefitted, he added.

Further, the secretary said Haryana is leading in wheat procurement now as it has contributed 50 per cent of the total procurement so far.

After Baisaki festival, procurement picks up. 'Looking at the procurement, we are hopeful of touching the record wheat procurement target set for this year,' he added. The government has kept a wheat procurement target of 427 lakh tonnes for the current year.

As per the latest data, 30 lakh tonnes of wheat have been procured in Haryana, 20.63 lakh tonnes in Madhya Pradesh and 10.56 lakh tonnes in Punjab so far this year. About 1.83 lakh tonnes of wheat have been procured in Uttar Pradesh, 1.31 lakh tonnes in Rajasthan and 22,813 tonnes in Gujarat so far.

Asked about pre-signed cheques from farmers being taken by arhtiyas after DBT (Direct Benefit Transfer) was implemented from April 10 in Punjab, the secretary said there is no stakeholder interest clash or encroachment in Punjab.

'Arhtiyas are receiving their commission separately through the e-mode of payment. Earlier, the MSP (Minimum Support Price) was going to farmers via Arhtiyas and now it is being directly transferred to farmers online,' he said.

About wheat procurement in Bihar, the secretary said it starts from April 20, the date which the state has set. Food Corporation of India (FCI) and state agencies are fully prepared for procurement in Bihar.

On the Delhi government's doorstep delivery of ration to PDS (Public Distribution System) beneficiaries, he said the law clearly states that ration should not be supplied at any increased rate.

Regarding storage of foodgrains, the official said that the government has plans to store the stock in modern silos and phase out conventional methods.

On the rise in edible oil prices, the secretary said prices came under pressure due to global factors like crop damage in Latin American countries. But in this process, farmers have benefited as prices of oilseeds are higher than MSP.

However, in the long run, the solution to address this issue is to reduce import dependence and increase domestic production, he noted. 

(PTI)