The blistering Sun has cast its shadow over the annual purchase of wheat in Uttar Pradesh.
Not only is there low turn out of the farmers at the procurement centers set up by various state government agencies but also the Food Corporation of India (FCI) refused to lift the consignments of shrivelled wheat.
The procurement agencies are facing difficulties in the meeting the wheat purchase target set up by the state government. Perturbed over the slow purchase the state food and civil supplies employees union has threatened to launch an agitation if the FCI fails to relax its norm.
The sudden increase in the temperature in the plains of UP during the harvesting period led to the shriveling of the wheat. A FCI officer said “according to the rules set by the central government they could purchase wheat grains that have shriveled up to seven percent. At several procurement centers the farmers brought wheat that have shriveled by 20 percent. Since the wheat was not fit for human consumption we returned the consignments”, he said.
The Principal Secretary, Food and Civil Supplies Department, Jacob Thomas on Monday told HT “the state government had shot off a letter to the Central government urging it to relax norms set by FCI for the procurement of shriveled wheat”.
On Sunday the Chief Secretary, AK Gupta reviewed the wheat purchase through video conference. He directed the Divisional Commissioners and District Magistrates to expedite the wheat procurement and to achieve the target set by the state government.
The Food and Civil Supplies Department has planned to purchase 39 lakh metric tonne wheat while FCI would purchase another 1 lakh metric tonne. In view of the bumper wheat production- 300 lakh metric tonne the state government has opened the door for the private players for procurement.
The state government had fixed Rs 1100 per quintal minimum support price. Under the wheat procurement policy 2010-11 the state government would purchase the wheat and hand over to FCI for storage. The purchase of wheat started on April 1 and state government agencies have purchased 156294 metric tonne wheat by Monday.
To streamline the procurement the Food and Civil Supplies Department had dispatched 15 teams to conduct surprise checks at the procurement centers. “Along with reviewing the purchase the officers would find out if the facilities were provided to the farmers visiting the centers”, Thomas said.
The team would also find out why the market rate of the wheat was less than the minimum support price fixed by the state government.