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Govt's wheat procurement reaches 8.86 mn ton so far; progressing at fast pace


Press Trust of India New Delhi
Amid COVID-19 lockdown, wheat procurement is progressing at a fast pace in major growing states and 8.86 million tonne of grains have been purchased so far in this marketing year, the Food Ministry said on Monday.
The wheat procurement target has been set at 40.7 million tonne for the 2020-21 marketing year (April-March) on an expected record 106.21 million tonne production.
Although the wheat marketing year runs from April-March, the bulk of procurement is done in the first three months. State-run Food Corporation of India (FCI) and state agencies undertake purchase at the MSP.
"Considering the looming threat of spread of COVID-19 virus, procurement is being undertaken after taking enough pre-cautions and ensuring social distancing in the mandies. Every effort is being made to ensure that the farmers are not put to any kind of distress," the ministry said in a statement.
Procurement of wheat is progressing at a "very fast pace" in all major procuring states of the country. As on April 26, total 8.86 million tonne of wheat has been procured for the central pool, it said.
Out of this, a major contribution has been from Punjab with 4.82 million tonne followed by Haryana with 1.90 million tonne, it added.
"Going by the present pace of procurement, the target of 40 million tonne kept for the season is likely to be achieved," the ministry said.
On distribution of foodgrains to consuming regions, the ministry said FCI has crossed the 2,000 number in terms of train loads dispatched during lockdown period.
So far, a total number of 2,087 train loads carrying about 5.84 million tonne were dispatched to meet the requirements of foodgrains under various schemes of the government.
Unloading of 1,909 rakes carrying 5.34 million tonne foodgrain stocks was also done during this period, despite severe constraints posed due to declaration of hotspots and containment zones in many of the key unloading centers in consuming states.
It is expected that with gradual easing of restrictions by the central and state governments, the pace of unloading will be enhanced further in the coming days, it added.
On lifting of foodgrains for free distribution under Pradhan Mantri Garib Anna Yojana (PMGAY) by state governments, the ministry said it is "progressing well" with union territories, Ladakh and Lakshadweep already completing lifting of full quota for 3 months.
Another seven states are lifting June month quota whereas 20 states are currently lifting May month quota. 8 states are lifting the April month quota, which is expected to be completed by month end, it said.
To ensure no poor goes hungry during the COVID-19 lockdown, the government is providing for free about 5 kilo foodgrains per ration card holder for three months under the PMGAY. This is over and above the quota given under the National Food Security Act.
The FCI has made arrangements to position adequate stocks in all states to meet the requirements.
In the case of West Bengal, the ministry said it has drawn plans to move 227 trains load of rice to the eastern state from four states -- Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Odisha to ensure availability of sufficient food grains in a short span of time.
The additional requirement of West Bengal under PMGAY is 9,00,000 tonne of rice for three months.

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First Published: Apr 27 2020 | 8:02 PM IST

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