Transport and Labour Shortage Hits Wheat Lifting in Punjab, Haryana
Chandigarh: State procurement agencies are struggling to lift wheat from the mandis in Punjab and Haryana due to shortage of transport and labour following a spike in arrival. This has sparked concern among farmers who are waiting to sell off their produce to start the kharif season. “This year the procurement period has shrunk to 10-15 days from 20-25 days in the past as the late maturity of crop has caused jump in arrival of the grain,” SS Prasad, Haryana’s additional chief secretary-food and supplies told ET.
Prasad blamed the Centre’s rule not to hire trucks that are more than 10 years old for part of the problem. However, he said, “The procurement process is likely to streamline in coming days.”
Apart from the Food Corporation of India, state agencies including Food and Supplies Department, HAFED, Haryana Agro Industries Corporation and Haryana Warehousing Corporation are engaged in procurement of food grains.
In Punjab, the state agencies Pungrain, Markfed, PUNSUP, Punjab State Warehousing Corporation and Punjab Agro Food Grains Corporation procure grain for the public distribution system. High level of mechanisation, especially use of combine harvesters, has also resulted in glut in arrival of wheat in the market, Satwant Singh Johal, managing director of Pungrain said. “This year the wheat crop is expected to be more than the last year but logging in some areas has curtailed possibility of bumper output,” he said.
Despite scanty rains in rabi season, the cereal bowl states of Punjab and Haryana are likely to provide more wheat for the public distribution system than they did last year. Wheat harvesting is likely to pick up by the next week in Punjab and Haryana, which provided 104.44 lakh tonnes and 67.78 lakh tonnes wheat respectively in 2015-16 rabi season. “The quality of grain is expected to be better than that last year as temperature had dropped during the final stage of maturity,” said Indu Sharma, former head of the Directorate of Wheat and Barley Research.
Glut in arrivals compound the problem for state procurement agencies