Wheat procurement in Punjab in the current rabi marketing season is expected to be better at 120 lakh metric tonne than last year’s at 120 lakh metric tonne, despite vagaries of weather that caused damage to the crop.
Given the ongoing crop arrivals in grain markets of the state, Punjab is expected to purchase 120 lakh metric tonne of wheat for the central pool, said an official of the Punjab Food and Civil Supplies department.
This purchase will be higher than last year’s procurement of 96.47 lakh MT.
The crop was adversely affected last season because of sudden rise in mercury during March which is the grain filling stage.
Untimely rains accompanied by hail storms and high-velocity winds caused extensive damage to wheat and other crops at many places in Punjab, including in Fazilka, Muktsar, Moga and Patiala districts in March and April this year.
The rough weather had an impact on around 14 lakh hectare out of total sown area of 34.90 lakh hectare and it was anticipated that there would be an adverse impact on overall yield of the crop.
However, during the crop-cutting experiments, the state agriculture department witnessed an average yield of 47.24 quintals per hectare or 19 quintals per acre.
With the results of the crop-cutting experiments, the department expects that the wheat output would be 160-165 lakh metric tonne.
“Yield of 19 quintals per acre is a long time average of Punjab as a whole. Therefore, the overall yield loss is not going to be as much as we were expecting earlier,” said a senior official of the Punjab Agriculture department.
Though there would be yield loss in some areas of few districts, the official further said.
Punjab had seen an overall yield of 48 quintals per hectare in 2021 and around 44 quintals per hectare in 2022.
Because of inclement weather conditions, farmers complained of shrivelled and broken grains and loss of luster. It prompted the Punjab government to seek relaxation in norms for wheat procurement from the Centre.
The limit of shrivelled and broken grains was relaxed up to 18 per cent under uniform specifications by the Centre.
The state government has also raised compensation for crop loss by 25 per cent. Around 65 per cent of the total wheat area of 34.90 lakh hectare has so far been harvested by farmers in the ongoing Rabi marketing season.
According to the official of the food and civil supplies department, 60.86 lakh MT of crop has arrived in the state as of now. Out of this, 54.91 lakh MT has been procured by the government agencies and 2.50 lakh MT by private traders.
Around 6 lakh metric tonne of wheat is arriving in mandis per day, said the official. As the crop harvesting got delayed because of inclement weather conditions, the crop arrivals may go beyond April.