There may have been a drastic fall in wheat procurement in Punjab, but the state still tops the chart nationally. The state's contribution to the national pool is 40%, the highest among all wheat-producing states.
The procurement figure vindicates renowned agriculture scientist MS Swaminathan's recent observation that Punjab would continue to serve as a major foodgrain producer for the country.
Wheat procurement nationally witnessed a drastic fall from 382 lakh tonnes during the previous rabi marketing season (2011-12) to 270 lakh tonnes in the current season. The union food ministry is expecting total procurement of 440 lakh tonnes, of which Punjab has sent projections of 140 lakh tonnes.
"Due to bad weather in the maturing season across wheat-producing states, the production was less than the expected level," said Punjab State Farmers Commission (PSFC) consultant PS Rangi. He added that there was no major cause of concern as apart from the current season's procurement, the national buffer stocks had 220 lakh tonnes of wheat stored.
Wheat procurement in the state was recorded at 110 lakh tonnes in the current rabi season, witnessing a drop of 16% in comparison to last season's procurement of 128 lakh tonnes.
Of the other wheat-producing states, Uttar Pradesh witnessed an increase from last season's 21 lakh tonnes to 50 lakh tonnes this season. UP streamlined its procurement system and had not allowed the flow of wheat to the neighbouring state of Haryana. In the previous season, at least 10 lakh tonnes of wheat from the state was procured in Haryana. The latter witnessed a drastic fall from 87 to 59 lakh tonnes.
Since the regime of systematic procurement of wheat and paddy started in the country 50 years ago, Punjab has been the leader. As per Rangi, Punjab has contributed 50% of foodgrains (wheat and rice) to the national public distribution system. In the rabi season of 2006-07, the state contributed 75% wheat to the national pool.