Punjab jittery as MP joins elite wheat club | business | Hindustan Times
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Punjab jittery as MP joins elite wheat club

After Madhya Pradesh announced in a meeting with union food secretary that it would procure 65 lakh tonne of wheat in the coming Rabi marketing season, officials from Punjab are a worried lot, as more procurement in other states means glut in Punjab.

business Updated: Feb 23, 2012 17:44 IST
Gurpreet Singh Nibber

As the start of wheat procurement from April 1 is approaching nearer, the worries of Punjab are growing.

After Madhya Pradesh announced in Tuesday's meeting with union food secretary that it would procure 65 lakh tonne of wheat in the coming Rabi marketing season, officials from Punjab are worried lot, as more procurement in other states means glut in Punjab.

"Please move our stocks first as we have no space to store coming wheat grain which is again going to be a bumper," Punjab's secretary food and civil supplies DS Grewal told union food secretary BC Gupta in the meeting.

Grewal's comments came as he understands that higher procurement in MP means slow movement of wheat from Punjab.

"He (Gupta) understands the situation, but has not promised anything," said an official from Punjab who attended the meeting in New Delhi.

Gupta, an IAS officer of Punjab cadre, was not available for comments.

As per figures procured from Food Corporation of India, Madhya Pradesh's wheat contribution into the national pool has grown from 50000 tonne in 2008, to 47 lakh tonne in 2011 and this year's estimated procurement is 65 lakh tonne.

In Punjab another bumper crop with 167 lakh tonne yield is expected this season, and the state hopes to procure 112 lakh tonne for the national pool.

MP is offering Rs 100 per quintal bonus from state's side over and above fixed MSP of Rs 1,285, to increase procurement to its maximum.

MP which was a consuming state till a few years ago has joined the elite club of producing states – Punjab and Haryana.

Moreover, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh also conveyed in the meeting that they don't want wheat from Punjab as their godowns were still full.

But national procurement agency Food Corporation of India (FCI) made it clear that it would be purely its decision and states can't dictate.

"FCI will try its best to evacuate stocks from surplus to deficit states, and states can't choose to receive wheat stocks or not, it is purely our decision," FCI CMD Siraj Hussain said, in the meeting which he later conveyed to Hindustan Times.

"It is unreasonable to offer Rs 100 bonus by any state, especially when there is no food scarcity, but we can't help, as it's a state's support to its farmers," said Grewal, adding that he had requested FCI and union government to move out already stocked wheat out of the state so that arrangement could be made for fresh stocks.

Punjab already has a stock 90 lakh tonne of wheat in its godowns and is falling short of 60 lakh tonne of storage space. It also has good amount of paddy stocks waiting to be moved out.

"Year after year our opening wheat stocks are rising, which is alarming. This year it is going to be 65 lakh tonne, either we should increase the storage capacity or movement is increased," adds Grewal.

Punjab has total of 212 lakh tone of storage space (106 open plinths and 106 covered space) and another 30-35 lakh tone covered space is sanctioned by FCI.

"I appeal to the states to ensure that already sanctioned storage space is completed at earliest," adds Hussain.