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Government estimates 300-320 lakh tonne wheat procurement this year, up by 23%

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NEW DELHI: Government on Wednesday estimated the wheat procurement to be around 300-320 lakh tonne during the Rabi Marketing Season, starting March 1, amid projection of a bumper winter crop this year.

This will be around 23% more that the quantity procured last year and will be enough to meet the food security requirement and for future market interventions.

TOI learnt that the food ministry estimated the procurement after long deliberations with state food secretaries on Wednesday. Govt also estimated wheat production to be around 1,110 lakh tonne this year, slightly lower than the last estimate. “We will keep reviewing the progress regularly with states.

Additional procurement centres will be opened in states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Rajasthan to buy more wheat at MSP from farmers,” an official said.

The increase in wheat procurement will bolster the stock of Food Corporation of India (FCI), which has plummeted to an eight year low of around 100 lakh tonne because of less procurement during the past two years because of a fall in production.

Sources said the two major wheat producing states — Punjab and Madhya Pradesh — are estimated to procure around 130 lakh tonne and and 80 lakh tonne respectively in the next marketing season, indicating the MSP operations won’t be impacted due to farmers’ protest.

Uttar Pradesh, which will start buying wheat from March 1, has estimated procurement of around 60 lakh tonne while procurement in Rajasthan and Bihar will start from March 10 and March 15 respectively. In MP, the MSP operations will begin from March 22 while in Punjab and Haryana this will start from April 1.

Meanwhile, the FCI has stopped weekly open market sale of wheat which was being carried out since June last year considering that the fresh crop will start arriving in mandis from next week and moderate the price. However, govt will continue selling Bharat Atta at subsidised price to consumers.

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