Punjab procures 250% more wheat amid pandemic

Chandigarh, April 25 (IANS) A positive note amid the coronavirus crisis. The agrarian state Punjab is heading to a record bumper wheat production with the state recording 250 per cent more procurement in a short span of nine days and its arrival is on till June-mid, a minister said on Saturday.

The state has set a record by procuring 2,797,108 metric tonnes of wheat in nine days against the procurement of 1,285,981 metric tonnes in the previous year till April 23, Food and Civil Supplies Minister Bharat Bhushan Ashu said.

He said due the pandemic the procurement this time started 15 days late instead of the normal practice of starting procurement on April 1 in order to ensure adequate safety arrangements.

The state has set up 1,867 marketing yards and converted 2,200 rice mills as temporary procurement centres.

The minister said this year government agencies procured 1,511,127 metric tonnes wheat extra in just nine days against the procurement in 23 days in 2019.

This year the procurement is 250 per cent more as compared to last year, he added.

The Minister said there is no shortage of gunny bags in the state. At present, the department has more than 2.58 lakh bales of gunny bags.

He said this season due to ongoing lockdown the government is facing 50 percent labour shortage.

Punjab, which contributes 30-35 per cent wheat to the national kitty, is expecting harvest about 185 lakh tonnes and the market arrival is likely to be about 135 lakh tonnes.

The minimum support price (MSP) of wheat is Rs 1,925.

The Chief Minister has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, reiterating his demand for incentive or bonus to farmers bringing in their produce after April 30 to check overcrowding at the markets.

The Chief Minister said the Centre should immediately announce a bonus of Rs 100 per quintal over and above the MSP for bringing wheat for marketing after May 1 and Rs 200 per quintal after May 31 in order to compensate them for the additional cost for handling the produce for staggering the marketing and the reduction in yield.