UP wheat procurement hits million-tonne mark despite the pandemic
The nearly 6,000 procurement centres set up by the state agencies and the FCI in UP have so far logged more than 1.07 MT in wheat purchase, more than double compared to 0.4 MT achieved in the corresponding period last year.
Despite a strong second wave of Covid-19 pandemic in Uttar Pradesh (UP), the wheat procurement in the ongoing rabi marketing season 2021-22 has hit a million-tonne (MT) mark within a month of the commencement of the annual exercise.
The nearly 6,000 procurement centres set up by the state agencies and the Food Corporation of India (FCI) in UP have so far logged more than 1.07 MT in wheat purchase, which is more than double compared to 0.4 MT achieved in the corresponding period last year.
The procurement season, which officially kicked off on April 1, 2021, will continue till June 15 even as the Yogi Adityanath government had announced the procurement centres across 75 districts would function as long as the farmers continued to bring their produce for selling.
According to UP Food and Civil Supplies (FCS) Department Commissioner Manish Chauhan, the lifting of the harvest was picking up pace, and so far, total purchase worth more than Rs 1,900 crore had been made from the farmers.
Until now, about 2,07,000 farmers from different districts of the state have benefited from the wheat procurement programme.
Earlier, the government had hiked the Minimum Support Price (MSP) of wheat from Rs 1,925 per quintal in 2020-21 to Rs 1,975 in 2021-22, and increased the number of procurement centres from 5,000 last year to 6,000 this year to boost purchase, especially in the backdrop of the second wave of the pandemic.
Besides, the procurement centres are adhering to standard safety protocols of face mask, physical distancing, hand hygiene, sanitisation etc. To protect farmers from getting infected, Covid helpdesks have been established at every centre.
For the benefit of farmers, geo-tagging of grain storage godowns and purchase centres has been done by the state government through the Remote Sensing Application Centre, Lucknow.
Meanwhile, the government has also engaged about 150 Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs) to aid the ongoing wheat procurement process and to promote grassroots-level rural entrepreneurs.
The state farmers have been mandated to register themselves with the FCS department portal to keep middlemen at bay even as the payment is being made directly into their bank accounts.
The state has for the first time deployed electronic point of sale (e-PoS) machines for transparency in the procurement process and to weed out middlemen and pseudo farmers.
For example, if a farmer wants to sell more than 100 quintals of wheat, the state revenue department officials first verify the credentials pertaining to the account/details to ensure transparency in the process.
Last year, the state managed to procure about 3.5 MT of wheat against the seasonal target of 5.5 MT due to the first wave of the pandemic. This year, the government has not set any target and the procurement centres would function as long as required.
(Virendra Singh Rawat is a Lucknow-based journalist who writes on contemporary issues of industry, economy, agriculture, infrastructure, budget etc.)