Wheat procurement & lifting impacted in Punjab, 18 farmers have committed suicide so far
Express News Service
CHANDIGARH: The procurement operation of wheat this season in Punjab has been impacted as till yesterday different central and state government agencies, including the Food Corporation of India have purchased only 85.98 Metric Tonnes (MT) going by the trend it does not seem the state will archive it’s target, as the wheat arrivals have gone down in grain markets across the state this is due to shrivelled grain problem as no decision has been taken by the Union Government till now on giving relaxation, also farmers are holding back the crop expecting surge in prices later on as global wheat is increasing due to Russia-Ukraine war and private player purchasing the crop above Minimum Support Price (MSP).
Also this season till yesterday only 62.81 per cent of wheat has been lifted. Thus approximately eighteen farmers have committed suicide to date across the state this month alone due to low yield on wheat.
As per the data with the state food and supplies department as of April 25 the total wheat procurement was 90.61 MT of this government agency purchased 85.98 MT and private traders 4.62 MT. From 2009-10 till last year, the highest private purchase was in 2014-15 which was 2.9 LMT which was 2.4 per cent. While last year also the picture as almost similar as on April 25 it was 84.17 LMT of that84.15LMT was purchased by government agencies and only 2,376 KG by private players.
The target fixed by the Food Corporation of India for 2022-23 for Punjab is 132 lakh MT as 132.22 LMT wheat was procured in 2021-22. Going by the trend it does not seem the state will archive it’s target as it seems it will remain around 100 LMT.
A senior official of the department said that this time the farmers are holding back wheat as they are expecting high prices after few day or months as the prices of the grain are increasing in the global markets. So they are not bringing their crop to the grain market. Also the private players this time arepurchasing more wheat from the farmers and paying them more than the Minimum Reserveprice (MSP) as they are giving them Rs 2,025 per tonne against the MSP of Rs 2,015 per quintal. The main factor is the wheat grain is shrivelled by 10 to 20 per cent thus yield of wheat is also low.
While this time the lifting is also slow as 62.81 per cent as 51.16 lakh MT of wheat has been lifted and 30.30 MT is yet to be lifted as of yesterday by different central and state government agencies from the 2,321-grain markets and procurements centres across Punjab.
The main reason for slow lifting is that the contracts for transportation and labour were allotted during the term of the previous government and it is alleged that the contractors who did not have the requisite number of trucks and labour for the job were given these contracts.
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“If we compare with last year, the pace of lifting this year is almost similar. Every year for a few days when there is a glut in mandis within few days, the entire stock will be lifted and shifted to godowns,” said an official.
A senior officer of FCI said that they are waiting for the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution to take a decision on relaxing specifications, following which they will lift the grain. Even the direct delivery of wheat to the FCI is stalled till this issue is resolved.
This month eighteen suicides have been reported to date across Punjab due to the low yield of wheat of these 11 in malwa region. As per the data gathered by BKU (Ugrahan) the largest farmer union of Punjab, fourteen farmers have committed suicide in different parts of Punjab till date this month.
“On April 18, 38-year-old Ramandeep Singh of Bajak village in Bathinda died as he consumedpesticide on April 14 due to the low yield of the grain. While Gurdeep Singh (28) of Mansa Khurd village in Bathinda hanged himself and Jaspal Singh of Maiserkhana village also in Bathinda jumped before the train on April 20 and Randhir Singh of Bhagivander villagen also Bathinda district was found dead in a pound. Manjit Singh of Paddi Sura Singh village in Hoshiarpur district consumed position on April 23. All these farmers committed suicide due to the low yield of wheat and the government should give Rs 10 lakh per family as compensation,’’ claimed Sukhdev Singh General Secretary of BKU (Ugrahan).
Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann has appealed to the Union Government to relax the specifications for shriveled grains in the purchase of wheat in the state without the imposition of any value cut, thereby protecting the incomes of the farmers who are already impacted by low yield and severe farm debt.
He said that despite the passage of one week since the central teams, deputed by the Ministry of Food and Public Distribution, completed their task and submitted their report to the ministry highlighting the extent of shriveling of the grain, no decision has been taken by the Union Government. He emphasized that farming issues are required to be resolved on high priority and the delay isimpacting the procurement operations.
BOX: Input Costs High The input costs have gone up as fertiliser, pesticides, seeds, and diesel needed to operate tubewells and tractors have shot up substantially this year. The prices of diammonium phosphate (DAP) have increased from Rs 1,200 to Rs 1,350 per 50 kg.