Chandigarh April 20 – Wheat procurement in Punjab is all set to exceed the figure achieved last year.According to Mr. Harcharan Bains, Media Advisor to Chief Minister, the state and the central agencies had procured 69 lakh Metric Tonnes of wheat from markets across the state for the central pool last year while the present trends indicated that the figure could cross the 80 lakh Metric Tonnes for this season.
Giving figures on the status of procurement in the state, Mr. Bains said that despite the delay in the start of the procurement operations because of inclement weather, a total of 26 lakh 68,982 Metric Tonnes of wheat had already been purchased till last evening (April 19,2008). Although the figure was somewhat lower than that achieved last year (29 lakh, 22,170 MTs), the difference was largely because of the comparative absence of private buyers. Significantly, however, the daily arrivals and purchase had already crossed the relative figures for the same period in 2007. The state agencies procured 5.55 lakh Metric Tonnes of wheat on Saturday ( April 19,2008) while the figure for the previous year for the same day stood at 4.59 lakh MT. The trend continued also for today and the total procurement was likely to exceed 5.75 lakh MT for Sunday.
Mr. Bains attributed the decline in purchase by private agencies to the strict vigil being kept by the government against hoarding and black-marketeering tendencies. ‘In addition, as per the new regulations, any private player who bought more than 10,000 MTs of wheat is now required to file a return with the government. Prior government permission is required for the purchase more than 15,000 MTs of wheat.’
The Media Advisor further said that the government agencies were fully geared to pick up and clear the entire stock from the Mandis. "There has admittedly been some difficulty at a couple of places in the state in immediately clearing the procured stock but this problem was caused by the sudden glut in arrivals because of the pressure caused by the anxiety about the weather. As the arrivals had been somewhat delayed earlier by unhelpful rain and winds, there was a sudden rush for sale as soon as the weather cleared. "However, logistics have been strengthened and streamlined to cope with the heavy inflow.The government will procure and pick up every single grain that arrives in the Mandis," said Mr. Bains.
Regarding the payment to farmers, Mr. Bains said that the government had ear-marked Rs 8500 crore for timely clearance. "Wherever a delay in payment is reported, the government will act firmly against anyone responsible. There is no dearth either of funds or of political will for payment to farmers," he said.