Uttar Pradesh has bagged almost two million tonnes (MT) of wheat procurement during the ongoing 2019 rabi marketing season.
Against the target of 5.5 MT for the current year, the state has already achieved nearly a third of the seasonal target. However, compared to the procurement log of almost 3 MT during the corresponding period last year, the actual purchase of around 2 MT this season is therefore lower by 35 per cent.
One of the reasons is apparently the ongoing Lok Sabha elections, which necessitates the deployment of government machinery in sundry election related tasks as well, besides imposing curbs on free movement during polling in respective states.
Since, the last phase of polling would get over on May 19 before the counting of votes takes place on May 23, the procurement process is likely to gain momentum in the coming weeks.
Meanwhile, the UP wheat procurement target of 5.5 MT is around 15 per cent of the country’s seasonal wheat purchase target of 37 MT, thus signifying the status that the state enjoys in supplying the food grain to the central pool, apart from Punjab and Haryana.
Pegged against the minimum support price (MSP) of Rs 1,840 per quintal, the UP farmers are expected to fetch total wheat payments worth more than Rs 10,000 crore in the current rabi marketing season.
The procurement of principal cash crops of wheat and paddy have clocked a robust uptick under the current Yogi Adityanath government, which came to power in March 2017. In 2017, UP had posted wheat procurement of 3.7 MT compared to 0.8 MT in 2016, registering quantum jump of 460 per cent. This rose by 43 per cent to 5.3 MT in 2018.
According to the state food and civil supplies department, the government had made an elaborate plan to ensure elections did not affect procurement. Last month, the food and civil department had taken the permission of the Election Commission (EC) for procuring 55,000 additional silos/sacks for storing wheat given the high procurement target, especially in light of the fact that last year UP had logged record wheat procurement of 5.3 MT against the seasonal target of 5 MT.
Every year, the wheat procurement season, which commences on April 1, would continue for two and half months till June 15, 2019. In March 2019, the state cabinet had hiked the procurement target by 10 per cent to 5.5 MT.
Besides, the government had increased the wheat MSP by six per cent from Rs 1,735 per quintal (100 kg) to Rs 1,840 per quintal. The state would additionally pay a bonus of Rs 20 per quintal for wheat chafing, thus raising the effective payout to Rs 1,860 per quintal.
Meanwhile, more than 355,000 farmers have been paid nearly Rs 3,600 crore against wheat procurement, while 6,690 procurement centres have been set up.