Wheat arrival begins on slow note in food bowl Punjab

By, Chandigarh
Apr 07, 2023 01:41 AM IST

Wheat harvest in Punjab begins slowly due to rain and hailstorm damage, with only 1,078 tonnes arriving in state mandis so far. Yield loss is estimated at 10-15%.

Wheat harvesting began on a slow note in Punjab on Thursday. A total of 770-tonne grain arrived in Mohali, Patiala, Ludhiana and Sangrur mandis.

A farmer harvests wheat crop using a combine machine in Bahi Bakhtor village on Bathinda-Mansa road in Punjab,on Thursday. (Sanjeev Kumar/HT)
A farmer harvests wheat crop using a combine machine in Bahi Bakhtor village on Bathinda-Mansa road in Punjab,on Thursday. (Sanjeev Kumar/HT)

So far, 1,078-tonne wheat has arrived in state mandis. The procurement of wheat started on April 1 in the state, with 1,872 mandis and procurement centres opened by the food and civil supplies department. After the procurement began, negligible arrival, 308 tonne, has been witnessed in the past five days.

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The harvest had been delayed due to spells of rain, high-velocity winds and hailstorm that started from March 25. The crop sown over 40% of the total cultivated area of 34.90 lakh tonnes was hit due to rain and winds. Subsequent rain resulted in waterlogging in farms across, adding to the losses. The state agriculture department and farm experts have pegged yield loss to 10 to 15%, a repeat of the previous season.

Before rain, a bumper yield of 165 to 170 lakh tonne was expected against an estimate of 140 to 150 lakh tonne now.

Initially, the state food department had made arrangements for 135 lakh tonne wheat and arranged cash credit limit of 29,000 crore from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), but now as per fresh estimates, only 90 to 100 lakh tonne produce is expected to reach mandis for purchase.

The Centre had fixed the minimum support price (MSP) of wheat at 2,125 per quintal.

“The weather conditions are stable now and we hope to get a long spell of sunny days. The department hopes that the farmers are able to salvage their crop and the losses to them are negligible,” said agriculture director Gurvinder Singh.

According to a general-manager rank officer of the mandi board, the harvest and stock arrival in mandis is expected to pick up next week. He said the board had made all arrangements in the mandis for speedy procurement as the food and civil supplies department had allocated mandis to four state procurement agencies — Punsup, Pungrain, state warehousing board and Markfed along with the Centre’s Food Corporation of India (FCI). Simultaneously, the revenue and agriculture departments are conducting girdawari to assess crop loss, a report of which is expected by next week.

Central teams to assess quality of grain

An eight-member team of scientists from the Union ministry of food and public distribution would arrive in the state on Friday to assess the quality of wheat grain arriving in the mandis for procurement. “So far, the quality of the grain which has arrived in the mandis is fine, but amount of discoloured and shriveled grain may rise with increase in arrivals,” mandi board official said.

As per the FCI norms for procurement, no value cut is imposed for 12 to 14% moisture, 2% luster loss, 4% slightly damaged and 6% shriveled grain. Damage more this invites a value cut for which a formula has been laid out.

“In order to ascertain the extent of shriveled, broken, damaged, discoloured and lustre loss in wheat crop, which has been damaged due to unseasonal rainfall and hailstorm, officials of the ministry (of food and public distribution) are deputed to collect samples from the affected Punjab districts in association with the state government and FCI officers,” read a communication from the ministry.

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    Gurpreet Singh Nibber is an Assistant Editor with the Punjab bureau. He covers politics, agriculture, power sector, environment, Sikh religious affairs and the Punjabi diaspora.

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