The government’s top priority is the kharif, or summer sown crop, which accounts for 90% of rice and 70% of oilseeds produced in the country. Official agencies started buying wheat in parts of Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh amid strict Covid-19 protocol.
Procurement will begin in Haryana on April 20 and in Rajasthan on Thursday. “About 100,000 passes have been issued to farmers in the last three days to facilitate harvesting and procurement in Punjab,” said Ravi Bhagat managing director of Punjab Mandi Board.
Market operations began slowly amid restrictions. “The harvesting will peak in next four-five days,” an official said. Official agencies expect average daily procurement of 20,000-22,000 tonne instead of usual 50,000 tonne.
“Farmers are employing local labour for harvesting but mandi operations are dealing with less than half of usual labour as lockdown has reduced labour availability,” a trader in Patiala said. In Uttar Pradesh, around 5,000 tonne of wheat is likely to be procured on the first day.
Most of the grain is coming from Jhansi and Bundelkhand regions, where the crop is in advance stage of maturity,” an official said. UP aims to buy 5.5 million tonnes while Madhya Pradesh is likely to purchase 10 million tonnes.
Agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar will take a stock of preparations for the next crop and interact with states at the kharif conference on Thrusday. He will review availability of inputs like seeds and fertiliser.
The kharif season is crucial to ensure the country’s food security as bumper output in last three years helped meet the requirement after Covid-19 outbreak . “We could manage the lockdown well as our godowns were full. We need to ensure bumper production yet again to keep the granaries flowing,” said a senior agriculture department official.
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