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Sunday, Aug 18, 2019

UP govt nowhere near its wheat purchase target this year

Nearly 27 lakh MT of wheat was purchased by May 21 and another 10 lakh MT in June after the government extended the purchase season by two weeks.

lucknow Updated: Jun 27, 2019 15:36 IST
Brajendra K Parashar
Brajendra K Parashar
Hindustan Times, lucknow
Though the wheat purchase did drop in UP under the present government this year, it is still much higher than wheat purchase being done before the current regime came to power.
Though the wheat purchase did drop in UP under the present government this year, it is still much higher than wheat purchase being done before the current regime came to power.(Representative image)
         

The UP state government is nowhere near its wheat purchase target this year after it made bumper purchase of wheat from farmers, breaking previous records, for two consecutive years since it came to power in March 2017.

As the extended season of purchase of wheat ends on Tuesday, the government could purchase only 36.86 lakh MT wheat till June 21, which is less than 68% of the 55 lakh MT target fixed for this year, a report prepared by the food and civil supply department shows.

Nearly 27 lakh MT of wheat was purchased by May 21 and another 10 lakh MT in June after the government extended the purchase season by two weeks.

Last year the final wheat purchase closed at 53 lakh MT against the target of 50 lakh MT, achievement being more than 100%.

The target-achievement gap stands at 18 lakh MT this year and the procurement is 16 lakh MT less than the total wheat purchased last year.

According to sources, the comparatively poor wheat purchase this year despite the government’s best efforts was due to several reasons, prominent among them being the higher market price available to farmers.

“This year, private agencies were seen aggressively buying wheat direct from farmers offering them the price that was far above the Rs 1,840 per quintal minimum support price (MSP) fixed by the government for this year,” they pointed out.

“And this was good for farmers. The purpose of the government purchase was after all to ensure that farmers did not have to sell their produce below the MSP,” they argued.

Though the wheat purchase did drop in UP under the present government this year, it is still much higher than wheat purchase being done before the current regime came to power.

For example, UP purchased only 22.67 lakh MT of wheat, which was 75% of the 30 lakh MT target in 2015-16, a year before the Adityanath government took over. The situation was worse in 2013-14 and 2014-15 when the state could purchase only 6.82 lakh MT and 6.28 lakh MT which was only 11.3% and 13.8% of the targets, respectively.

“This is the reason the BJP made the poor wheat and paddy purchases a major issue during the assembly elections in 2017. Soon after it came to power it increased the wheat purchase targets and achieved them, too, for two consecutive years showcasing the same during the recently concluded Lok Sabha polls as a big achievement that it claimed benefitted farmers,” sources said.

Traditionally, UP has been a low purchaser of wheat despite being the largest wheat producer state. Four states—Punjab, Haryana, MP and Rajasthan together -- it is said, purchase three-fourth of the country’s wheat from their farmers.

First Published: Jun 27, 2019 15:35 IST

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