Madhya Pradesh’s announcement to appreciably increase its wheat contribution to the central pool has triggered fear of a glut in Punjab.
Madhya Pradesh told union food secretary BC Gupta during Tuesday’s meeting that it would procure 65 lakh tonnes of wheat in the coming rabi marketing season. Wheat procurement will start on April 1.
“Please move our stocks first as we have no space to store the expected bumper wheat crop,” Punjab’s secretary, food and civil supplies, DS Grewal told Gupta at the meeting.
“Gupta (a Punjab-cadre officer) understands the situation, but has not promised anything,” said a Punjab government official who attended the meeting in New Delhi.
As per figures procured from the Food Corporation of India (FCI), Madhya Pradesh’s wheat contribution to the central pool has grown from 50,000 tonnes in 2008 to 47 lakh tonnes in 2011.
In Punjab, a bumper crop of 167 lakh tonnes is expected this season. The state hopes to procure 112 lakh tonnes for the national pool.
Madhya Pradesh is offering Rs 100 per quintal bonus over and above the minimum support price (MSP) of Rs 1,285. MP, which was a consumer state till a few years ago, has joined the elite club of wheat-producing states such as Punjab and Haryana.
Bihar and Uttar Pradesh also conveyed at the meeting that they didn’t want wheat from Punjab as their godowns were still full. But the FCI made it clear that the states could not dictate their terms.
“The FCI will try its best to move stocks from grain-surplus to grain-deficit states, but states can’t choose to receive wheat stocks or not. It is purely our decision,” FCI chairman-cum-managing director Siraj Hussain said at the meeting.
“It is unreasonable for any state to offer Rs 100 bonus, especially when there is no food scarcity, but we can’t help as it’s a state’s way to support its farmers,” said Grewal, adding that he had requested the FCI and the Centre to move out stocked wheat out of the state so that arrangements could be made for fresh stocks.
Punjab already has 90-lakh tonne wheat in its godowns and is short of 60-lakh tonne of storage space. It also has some 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 tonnes. We should either raise the storage capacity or increase the movement of stocks,” Grewal added.
Punjab has 212 lakh tonnes of storage space (including open plinths for 106 lakh tonnes); another 30-35 lakh tonnes of covered space is sanctioned by the FCI.
“I appeal to the states to ensure that already sanctioned storage space is made ready at the earliest,” Hussain said.
Despite repeated attempts, BC Gupta was not available for comment.
Quote: FCI will try its best to move stocks from grain-surplus to grain-deficit states, but states can’t choose to receive wheat stocks or not Siraj Hussain, FCI chairman