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States » North

UP lag behind in wheat purchase

Lucknow May 29 (UNI) The two-month-long lockdown imposed in wake of the novel coronavirus outbreak has severely impacted the wheat procurement in the state of Uttar Pradesh.

According to a food department official, the Rabi procurement season for 2020 is coming to an end, and most states have almost completed the process of buying wheat from farmers, but not in UP, the largest wheat producer in the country.

Between April 15 and May 24, the North Indian state procured 20.39 lakh metric tonnes (LMT) of wheat, just 5.6 per cent of the total estimated production of 363 Lakh MT in the state. The procurement was delayed due to lockdown and it began on April 15. This is also only about 37 per cent of the procurement target of 55 L MT set for the state by the central government. This target in itself was only about 15 per cent of the total estimated production. For the last Rabi season, UP had the same target, 55 LMT, but the procurement was only 37 Lakh MT.
“The lag in procurement is due to an initial shortage of jute sacks, but it has picked up pace since plastic bags were allowed. Over 20 LMT of wheat has been purchased from around four lakh farmers,” an official of the food department said here on Friday.

The procurement is being done through 5,947 procurement centres across the state. A total of 6, 39,314 farmers have registered to sell wheat at the minimum support price.

The farmer’s organisation say that due to slow pace of procurement, the farmers are forced to sell the wheat below MSP in mandis and wholesale wheat traders. The MSP for wheat is fixed at Rs 1,925 per quintal, up from Rs 1,840 last year.
A farmer of Barabanki said the pace of procurement is slow and the officials are ignoring the purchase in the name of quality and this gas forced the farmers to sell wheat to a trader at a rate of Rs 1,850 per quintal. The farmers to save multiple labour and transportation costs are also selling wheat in mandis at Rs 1,800-1,850 per quintal.

Another reason for the slow pace of procurement is the failure of the farmers to get registered with the portal for selling wheat at procurement centres. A farmer said even if they register and get a token, there are days-long queues at purchase centres. “Once the wheat is rejected, we have to bring it back again in a tractor, which is double the transportation cost, plus other expenses while waiting there. Hence, it's better we sell to other traders or to the local consumer at a rate lower than MSP,” said the farmer.
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