In Punjab the cheer of a bumper wheat crop has been dampened by anxiety over how it will be stored in state mandis (markets) and procurement centres.
There is a shortage of covered space, and much of the wheat will be stored in the open, making it vulnerable to the vagaries of weather.
Already, 10 million tonnes of rice and 4.3 million tonnes of wheat are stores in the covered storage, occupying most of the 15.85 million tonnes of covered space available.
Over this, another 1.2 million tonnes of wheat is stored in the open. The total open storage space can accommodate 7.5 million tonnes.
That means just around 1.5 million tonnes of space is available for closed storage, and 6.3 million tonnes for open storage.
As against this, the state’s food and civil supplies department has estimated the arrival of 13.2 million tonnes of wheat.
In the given scenario we have to store wheat in open and in the paddy shelling mills,” said an official of food and civil supplies department, who asked not to be named.
Due to dip in temperatures in March and sporadic rainfall last week, wheat harvest in the state has been delayed by a fortnight. The state food and civil supplies opened its operations for procurement from April 1, but so far (by April 21) only 400,000 tonnes has arrived in mandis.
Now, with the rise in temperature, arrivals are expected to pick up and procurement agencies are expecting an influx in coming days.
Slow movement of wheat out of the state to other states is adding to the worries of the state government.
“As against monthly average movement of 1-1.2 million tonnes of food grain (wheat and rice) from the state to consuming states, the movement has dipped to 700,000-800,000 tonnes,” said an official in the regional office of Food Corporation of India (FCI) in Chandigarh, who asked not to be named.
FCI coordinates dispatch of food grain to the consuming states.
Punjab’s principal secretary, food and civil supplies department, KAP Sinha said that arrangements for wheat storage are being made and FCI has also been asked to scale-up movement out the state.
“We are hopeful of vacating storage space by the time procurement ends,” he added.
The overall bright prospect of a bumper crop in the entire country is adding to slow movement.
As is the increase in overall area under wheat production in the country this rabi (winter crop) season by at least 7%.