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64.7 LMT wheat procured so far: Centre

New Delhi, Apr 16 (MNN) The government has so far procured 64.7 lakh metric tonnes of wheat worth Rs 12,800 crore at MSP of Rs 1,975 per quintal in the ongoing Rabi Market Season (2021-22), as against an estimated target of 427 LMT this year, a senior Food Ministry officer said.

Last year (2020), the procurement was 389 LMT but on the same date (April 14), it was around 60 tonnes only, whereas 12.81 LMT was procured during the corresponding period in the RMS 2019-20, Department of Food and Public Distribution Secretary Shudhanshu Pandey told the media in a virtual press meet.

Pandey said that Food Corporation of India and other state agencies will operate more than 19,000 centres across the country during the RMS 2021-22.

The government of India was committed to purchase the wheat at Minimum Support Price and to ensure that payments were made directly into the accounts of the farmers, he added. From RMS 2021-22 onwards, transfer of MSP will be through the DBT mode across India.

Till now, 6,60,593 farmers from 11 states have benefited from this endeavour.

Rabi season 2021-22 started in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan from March 15, 2021, in Haryana and Delhi from April 1, in Punjab from April 10, and slated to begin in Bihar from April 20.

In Punjab, 10.6 LMT wheat has been procured by April 14, as against zero LMT during 2020-21 and 0.15 LMT during the corresponding period of 2019-20.

Arrival of 5.57 LMT wheat was recorded in Punjab mandis on April 14, which is likely to pick up.

Pandey claimed that there was no stakeholder interest clash or encroachment in Punjab and that arhtiyas or commission agents were receiving commission separately through e-mode of payment. Earlier, the MSP was given to farmers through the arhtiya but was now directly transferred to farmers online.

As for Delhi government’s plan for doorstep delivery of ration, the officer said that the Centre was clear on the matter that it has to be as per the law, adding that ration should not be supplied at increased price to consumers.

Pandey denied a wrong public perception that poor conditions in godowns spoiled foodgrain stocks. “In 2019 and 2020, the damage was only 0.006 per cent and 0.004 per cent of the total storage,” he remarked.

The officer said that the government is in the process to launch a modernisation plan to improve the storage infrastructure in India & increase storage capacity by 100 LMT. “By 2024-25, we will store our stocks in modern silos and phase out the conventional godowns. Silos were set up in Ahmedabad, while a pilot project on rice silos in Buxar was underway.”

As for maize procurement in Bihar, the Food Secretary said that the Centre’s policy is to ask for quotes from states and accordingly announce the MSP.

“So, the states can procure the required quantity of maize according to their needs.”

He pointed out that due to Centre’s permission for ethanol production, Bihar had announced a policy to help increase the demand for maize crop in the eastern state.

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