Till last week, the wheat procurement by the Food Corporation of India (FCI) and state government agencies was approximately 1.3 crore tonnes, nearly 34% lower than the quantity procured during the corresponding period last year. Government officials said there is a sharp decline in the daily arrival of the summer crop in mandis, indicating the pace of procurement is set to slow down.
Though government agencies are still hopeful of touching around 2.5 crore tonnes against the target of 4.4 crore tonnes during this season, industry insiders say crossing 2.2 crore would be difficult.
The daily arrival at mandis in Punjab dipped to 2.46 lakh tonnes on Sunday compared to 5.2 lakh tonnes on the same day last year. Sources said mandis are almost empty and there is little chance of things improving. Similar is the story in Haryana as well.
Officials attribute the lower purchase by government agencies to higher activity by private players to meet export and domestic demand with some of the larger farmers seen to be holding back stocks in anticipation of better realisation in the weeks ahead.
Procurement data from three states — MP, Gujarat and Rajasthan — show that a large chunk of wheat has been purchased by private players at rates above the government-notified MSP. The prices offered by private players in MP have been around Rs 2,740 per quintal compared to the MSP of Rs 2,015. Similarly, in Rajasthan farmers are getting Rs 2,680 per quintal for their wheat and in Gujarat also the price is close to Rs 2,700.
Officials, however, said that lower procurement is a blessing in disguise as the government’s subsidy outgo will reduce and stock management will be better. Farmers also have nothing to complain as they are getting better price, they added.
With supplies from Ukraine and Russia drying up in the international markets, the government is targeting new markets such as Egypt, Turkey, Nigeria and Vietnam in addition to stepping up shipments to existing buyers in Bangladesh, Indonesia, the Philippines and Yemen.
Government estimates suggested that around 30 lakh tonnes of surplus wheat have been contracted for exports, with around a third to be shipped by the end of the month.