Ruchika M Khanna
Chandigarh, February 7
The state’s once overflowing granaries are now almost empty. Following lesser than the targeted wheat production last year and the quick flow of grains to recipient states from Punjab throughout the year, wheat stocks are at their lowest-ever.
Good crop expected
We are targeting to procure 132 lakh MT of wheat. We hope the weather remains favourable and the yield is good. Rahul Bhandari, Principal Secretary, Food and Civil Supplies
Sources reveal that the godowns of the procurement agencies have 10 lakh metric tonnes of grains left, while the stocks available with the Food Corporation of India are just six lakh metric tonnes.
Generally, at this time of the year, when the godowns are being emptied to create space for the next season’s wheat, the state had stocks of around 50-60 lakh metric tonnes.
Official sources have said the total wheat procured in the country in 2022-23 was down by over 50 per cent (187.86 lakh MT wheat against the previous year’s procurement of 433.44 lakh MT).
Amid the aggressive buying of wheat from mandis by private players last year, the state’s own contribution to the central pool was 94.12 lakh MT.
With the government not releasing wheat under the Open Market Sale Scheme (OMSS), the wheat prices had gone up to over Rs 30 per kg last month.
“To control the prices, the government floated the tender for wheat allotment last week. Tenders have been accepted and 2.70 lakh MT of wheat is being released in the Punjab region,” Naresh Ghai, president of the Punjab Flour Mills Association said.
Officers in the state Food and Supply Department say that as a result of the continuous flow of grains, the state will have just about 3 lakh MT left in its granaries when the wheat procurement season begins in April.
“That is why the upcoming wheat procurement season is crucial,” say the official.
Information collected from the state Agriculture Department shows that this year, the area under wheat is 35.08 lakh hectare, which is slightly less than area under wheat last year (35.25 lakh hectare).
Reasons for decline
- A decline in wheat procured in the country; extension of the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana; and global wheat shortages following the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war
Just 10 lakh mt left
- The state godowns have 10 lakh metric tonnes of grains left
- The grain stocks available with Central agencies like FCI are 6 lakh MT
- In January 2022, the state had an estimated 48 lakh mt of wheat stock while in 2021, it was 52 lakh mt
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