Rain accompanied by medium to high velocity winds in most parts of Punjab had little or no impact on procurement of the wheat in the state's 1,785 'mandis' (procurement centres), but it did lead to panic among the farmers.
Food and supplies minister Adesh Partap Singh Kairon, who undertook a tour of the 'mandis' of the district on Friday, expressed satisfaction with the on-going procurement as despite inclement weather last night, tractor-trolleys loaded with the foodgrain continued to pour into the 'mandis' for sale. Till date an estimated 75-lakh tonnes of wheat had been procured in the state and 62% payments had been made to the farmers.
Director (food), Satwant Singh Johal, who accompanied the minister, told HT, “The rain did not affect the procurement. Only the lifting of the grain from the 'mandis' where there was rain has been affected to a certain extent.”
Referring to reports received by his department, Johal said that the downpour last night was not heavy as a result most of the grain lying in the 'mandis' did not suffer much damage. Only the grain lying out in the open was affected and this would have to be dried before being lifted, he added.
As a result of the rain, workers in Tarn Taran, Harike, Amritsar and other 'mandis' of the border districts remained busy throughout the day spreading out the wet grain for drying in the sun. The bright and sunny weather will help in drying the grain to ensure that it does not get discoloured.
According to Kairon, a total of 140-lakh tonnes of wheat will be procured by the government procurement agencies this season. In 40 'mandis' of the state, electronic screens have been put up to give the latest updates of the procurement by different agencies and the private traders. In the district the screen facilities was installed at Harike on Friday.
On receiving complaints that there was shortage of packing material (gunny bags), the minister asked the officials to make arrangements at the local level to ensure that every grain being brought to the market is lifted. Instructions have also been given that farmers bring grain for sale should be sent back home by the evening after procuring their produce.
Harvesting not affected
The rain and the high velocity winds did not have any effect on the harvesting most of which is being carried out with combine harvesters. The inclement weather only caused panic among farmers as on Friday morning they rushed to hire combine harvesters.
Amritsar district chief agriculture officer (CAO) Dilbagh Singh Dhanju said, “The weather only caused panic as farmers wanted to get the grain cut and transported to the 'mandis' at the earliest. We have told the farmers not to cut the crop if it is not fully ripe or else they will not be paid the full price for their produce.”
He said that with the sun shining bright in the morning, harvesting was in full swing in the district and it will be over within a week.
“The winds also did not cause much damage as most of the crop is ripe, which is light in weight and does not easily fall to the ground. Only crop which is not fully ripe gets affected by the winds,” he added.
Dhanju said that reports indicated that the average yield will fall this year by around two quintals per acre. A farmer of Majitha, whom the CAO rang-up said that he had a yield of 20 quintals per acre this year as against 22 quintals per acre last year.
“The fall in yield is partly due to the weather conditions as farmers fearing rains did not go in for the requisite number of irrigations. It is also due to the yellow rust which affected the crop in certain areas,” he said.