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HindustanTimes Sat,19 Apr 2014

Punjab, Hry eye all time high wheat procurement

PTI  Chandigarh, March 31, 2013
First Published: 13:04 IST(31/3/2013) | Last Updated: 10:30 IST(1/4/2013)

With wheat procurement season set to begin tomorrow, Punjab and Haryana are eyeing all time high crop procurement at 227.30 lakh tonnes, a rise of 5 per cent over last season's purchase.

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Punjab, the food basket of the country, has planned to procure record 140 lakh tonne of wheat during Rabi marketing season 2013-14.

"The wheat procurement from Punjab for the central pool has been targeted at 140 lakh tonne, which will be the all time high procurement from the state," a senior official of Food Corporation of India (FCI) said here.

Highest wheat procurement from Punjab for central pool was 128.30 lakh tonne during the last season.

Haryana has made arrangement for procuring 87.30 lakh tonnes for the central pool during the coming season. A record 87.16 lakh tonnes was procured last season from Haryana.

However, Haryana FCI officials pointed out that wheat arrival in Haryana could be around 78 lakh tonne as state farmers living in villages adjoining Rajasthan would be tempted to sell wheat in Rajasthan.

"We are expecting that Haryana farmers, whose villages share border with Rajasthan will sell about 8-9 lakh tonnes of wheat in that state as the Rajasthan government is likely to announce Rs. 150 per quintal bonus over and above wheat MSP," the FCI official said.

Cumulatively, both Punjab and Haryana are eyeing wheat output of 161.59 lakh tonnes and 124 lakh tonnes, respectively for the current Rabi season.

However, "inadequate" foodgrain storage space will continue to haunt both the agrarian states with about 80 lakh tonnes of freshly harvested crop being expected to be stored in unscientific manner at rice mills, mandi yards or open space, which could be vulnerable to vagaries of inclement weather conditions.

Wheat harvesting in Punjab and Haryana is expected to be delayed by more than 10 days in view of untimely rain lashing the various parts of northern region and unexpectedly low temperature.

Amid rising procurement, paucity of space for storing foodgrain will again pose problems for wheat storage in both states as about 80 lakh tonnes of fresh crop would be stored in an unscientific manner.

In Punjab alone, the volume of wheat stored in an unscientific manner would reach a whopping 60-65 lakh tonnes mark against 35 lakh tonnes last season. In Haryana, about 15-16 lakh tonnes of winter crop will be kept in rice mills and open fields because of inadequate storage space, the FCI official added.

Storage shortage and slow movement of foodgrain stock have been major cause of concerns for Punjab and Haryana, which led to foodgrain stocks reaching alarming levels.

Punjab has 110 lakh tonnes of Covered Area Plinth and 130 lakh tonnes of covered space, while Haryana has 105 lakh tonne of total storage capacity.

Both states have set up 1,770 and 372 purchase centres, respectively, for smooth procurement of the winter crop.

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