Govt agencies procure wheat at record 382 LMT: Food Ministry

Wheat procurement in the current Rabi Marketing Season (RMS) 2020-21 touched 382 metric lakh tonnes (LMT) as on June 16, surpassing previous record of 381.48 LMT achieved during 2012-13, said Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution on Wednesday.

The government agencies have procured wheat from farmers at MSP (Minimum Support Price) fixed by the central government at Rs 1,925 for the crop season 2019-20 (July-June) for the Central pool which has touched an all-time level of 382 LMT.

This has been accomplished during the trying times of Covid-19 when the whole country was under lockdown, said the Food Ministry in a statement.

The commencement of procurement was delayed by a fortnight due to the first lockdown and kicked off only from April 15 in most of the wheat surplus states as against the standard April 1. Extraordinary efforts have been made by state governments and all government procuring agencies led by Food Corporation of India (FCI) to ensure that wheat is procured from farmers without any delay and in a safe manner, said the statement.

The number of purchase centres was increased from 14,838 to 21,869 this year by opening procurement centres in all possible locations, in addition to traditional mandis. This has helped to reduce farmers’ footfall in mandis and ensured social distancing.

Technological solutions were deployed to regulate the daily inflows into mandis through token systems. These measures, along with actions on the ground for regular sanitizing, earmarking of dumping areas for each farmer etc, ensured that none of the food grain procurement centres became Covid-19 hotspot anywhere in the country.

This year Madhya Pradesh became the largest contributor to the Central pool with 129 LMT wheat, surpassing Punjab which procured 127 LMT.

Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan also made significant contributions of 74 LMT, 32 LMT and 19 LMT respectively to the national procurement of wheat. Around one lakh metric tonnes of wheat has been procured in other stares.

Across India, 42 Lakh farmers have been benefited and a total amount of about Rs 73,500 crore has been paid to them towards Minimum Support Price for wheat, said Food Ministry.

The hefty inflow of food grains into Central pool ensured that FCI is ready to meet any additional requirement of food grains for the people of the country in the coming months.