Govt, FCI to go for wheat procurements
ONCE BITTEN twice shy! With wheat price skyrocketing, both the State Government and the Food Corporation of India (FCI) have planned to go in for wheat procurement at the end of March. Secretary, Food and Public Distribution, RN Das, along with a battery of Union Agriculture Department officials, will be in the city on Tuesday to discuss the strategy of wheat procurement with State Government officials.india Updated: Feb 04, 2006 01:46 IST
ONCE BITTEN twice shy! With wheat price skyrocketing, both the State Government and the Food Corporation of India (FCI) have planned to go in for wheat procurement at the end of March.
Secretary, Food and Public Distribution, RN Das, along with a battery of Union Agriculture Department officials, will be in the city on Tuesday to discuss the strategy of wheat procurement with State Government officials.
Slackness in procurement of wheat, both by the State Government as well as the FCI, in 2004-05 is among one of the factors that led to wheat crisis and increase of wheat prices in the open market.
With stocks of wheat vanishing from the godowns, FCI is importing wheat from Punjab these days to run various Central-aided schemes, including food-for-work programme, SGRY, BPL, mid-day meal schemes etc in UP.
FCI GM Hukam Singh maintained that 2.75 lakh metric tonne of wheat, sufficient for the month of March, was stocked in FCI godowns. However, the FCI is importing another 54,000 metric tonne wheat from Punjab.
UP being one of the leading wheat producer States should be self sufficient rather than dependent on other States. Last year, wheat was sown in over 90 lakh hectares and the production was 225 lakh metric tonne. Around 190 lakh MT is required for various schemes. The State had surplus of around 35 lakh metric tonne, still price of wheat increased with the start of the New Year.
Singh said poor purchase plan led to price hike. Both the State Govt and the FCI had planned to purchase 25 lakh MT wheat from the farmers, but could achieve 20 per cent of the target.
As both Central and State Governments failed to achieve the target, the hoarders and black marketers moved in to make a fast buck. They purchased wheat from farmers and stocked it waiting for the price to soar. Soon the price of wheat increased from Rs 700-800 per quintal to Rs 1000-1100 per quintal.
Learning from past mistakes, both the FCI and the State Govt has decided to go for the procurement at the end of March when stocks of wheat start arriving in the mandis. By June 31, procurement will be completed.
At the meeting with the Union Secretary, State Government officials will discuss the strategy of procurement and other measures required to check the recurrence of the crisis. Principal secretary, Food and Civil Supplies, Sudhir Kumar, is also visiting New Delhi on Monday to discuss the procurement policy with the Union Government officials.
Commissioner, Food and Civil Supplies, Devesh Chaturvedi said the Govt had planned to start procurements in 14 districts of Saharanpur, Agra, Meerut and Bareilly divisions from March 23.
Though the FCI had planned to release 8,000 MT wheat in January in the open market to stabilize the price, the flourmills failed to lift the quota. In February, FCI has allocated another 5,000 MT. He said flourmills owners would lift the quota of both the months. With flush of fresh stocks in the market, the prices would drop, he said.