With a view to ensure unhindered procurement process during the ongoing Rabi Marketing Season (RMS) 2021-22, the Punjab Government has approved the packaging of wheat in good quality used-gunny bags provided by Arhtiyas. This would ensure that there is no shortage of gunny bags in any Mandi of Punjab. Herein it may be noted that the arrival of wheat in Mandis has increased to 8 LMT per day and there is a nationwide shortage of new gunny bags and new PP bags for storage of the procured wheat.
Giving further details, a spokesperson for the state government stated that CM reviewed the status of procurement with senior officials. Regarding the issue of slow pace of purchase in the border districts of Amritsar, Gurdaspur, Tarn Taran and Ferozepur, it was explained that the grain of wheat in these areas is shriveled and accordingly there is a relaxation in procurement specifications required from Government of India before it can be purchased.
Government of Punjab has, on 16th April, already written to Government of India to grant immediate relaxation in the uniform specifications of wheat in respect of shriveled and broken grains upto 11 percent and luster loss upto 10 percent in the districts of Amritsar, Tarn Taran and Fazilka without any value cut. However the reply from Government of India is still awaited. Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh directed the Food & Supplies Minister and the Principal Secretary, Food and Civil Supplies to immediately resolve the matter by pursuing it with their counterparts in Government of India.
Notably, in the joint analysis of wheat samples in FCI district Amritsar (Revenue District Amritsar and Tarn Taran) conducted by FCI and State procurement agencies, luster loss upto 5 percent and shriveled and broken grains upto 11 percent have been found in a few mandis of these districts which is more than the prescribed limit. Likewise, in case of Fazilka the percentage of shriveled and broken grains has been found upto 9.9 percent which is in excess of the prescribed limit of 6 percent.
Clearing misconceptions about reports appearing in a section of the media that FCI was refusing to purchase HD-2967 variety of wheat in the districts of Bathinda and Mansa, the Additional Chief Secretary, Agriculture stated that HD-2967 was an approved variety of wheat by both the Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) Ludhiana as well as the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR). Hence, there should be no refusal to purchase by any procurement agency. The Chief Minister directed the officials of FCI to immediately dispel any doubts in the minds of people and purchase the said variety of wheat without further hitch.
The Chief Secretary Vini Mahajan informed the Chief Minister that adequate measures have been put in place in the mandis to ensure strict compliance with the Covid safety protocols in view of the spread of the pandemic. Special vaccination camps have been set up in the mandis to facilitate vaccination of farmers, Arhtiyas and labour, she disclosed.
The Principal Secretary, Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs, Sh K.A.P. Sinha said that 38.95 Lakh MT wheat has arrived in the mandis till 17th April out of which 34.40 Lakh MT stands procured at Rs. 1975 per quintal MSP. He further added that 85 percent of the wheat purchased has been lifted within the prescribed period of 72 hours. He also informed that payments to the farmers had started and would pick up pace from Monday onwards after the banks reopen.
The Chief Minister reemphasized that the welfare of farmers is uppermost in his mind and there should be hassle-free purchase of every grain of the farmer’s wheat that arrives in the Mandis. He directed the MDs of the State Provurement Agencies to tour the entire state and resolve any grievance of any farmer that comes to their notice.
The meeting was attended by the Chief Secretary, Special Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister, Additional Chief Secretary Agriculture, Principal Secretary Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs and Director Food & Civil Supplies.