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Central Teams Assess Grain Damage in Punjab, Collect 55 Samples for Analysis

Eight teams of experts from the Union Ministry of Food and Public Distribution tour mandis throughout Punjab to evaluate the quality of wheat grain arriving for purchase by government agencies.

Shivam Dwivedi
Central Teams Assess Grain Damage in Punjab, Collect 55 Samples for Analysis
Central Teams Assess Grain Damage in Punjab, Collect 55 Samples for Analysis

On April 7, eight teams of scientists from the Union Ministry of Food and Public Distribution visited mandis across Punjab to evaluate the quality of wheat grain arriving for purchase by state government agencies. According to state food and civil supplies department personnel, the teams collected samples from several mandis in the districts of Mohali, Patiala, Sangrur, Ludhiana, and Ferozepur, which will be sent to the ministry's laboratories for quality testing.

According to state food and civil supplies department personnel, the teams collected 55 samples from various mandis in the districts of Mohali, Patiala, Sangrur, Ludhiana, and Ferozepur, which would be sent to the ministry's laboratories for quality testing. "The ministry sent the teams after the state government raised a red flag for allowing grain quality to be relaxed during procurement," an official said.

"According to the report, relaxation would be permitted, saving farmers from the value cut," the official stated. This season, the Centre has offered a minimum support price of USD 2,125 per quintal on wheat, with a value cut enforced if grain quality falls below acceptable levels. The quality of grains has been damaged by two bouts of unseasonal rains, high-velocity winds, and hailstorms that began on March 25, and certain state governments, including Punjab and Haryana, have sought relaxation in procurement standards.

Confirming that the inclement weather has had an influence on the quality of grain arriving at mandis, the official stated that its field officers are reporting increased moisture content, shrivelled grain, more than the acceptable limits, and a higher quantity of broken grain. "It's a repeat of the previous rabi harvest, when the wheat crop suffered from rain in January and February and a sudden rise in temperature in March. Last year, the overall yield loss was anticipated to be 15%," the official stated.

After the unfavourable weather, experts predict the current season's overall wheat harvest in Punjab to fall below 150 lakh tonnes, compared to earlier estimates of 170 lakh tonnes. Wheat was planted on 34.9 lakh hectares this season, 25,000 hectares less than the previous season in Punjab. On Friday, 2,514 tonnes of wheat arrive.

Wheat harvesting and arrivals are gradually increasing. As of Friday, 2,514 tonnes of wheat have arrived in state mandis in Mohali, Patiala, Mansa, Sangrur, Barnala, Ludhiana, and Ferozepur districts. The agricultural marketing (mandi) board of the state has established 1,872 mandis and procurement facilities in the state for the acquisition of wheat by four procurement agencies and the Food Corporation of India of the Centre. 770 tonnes of wheat arrived at the mandis on Thursday.

According to the ministry, wheat output losses due to recent inclement weather are projected to be in the range of 1-2 million tonnes, but overall production will reach a record 112.2 million tonnes this year due to increased area and yield. The Centre also requested that roller flour millers directly acquire from farmers to meet their needs rather than obtaining supply through the state-owned FCI under the Open Market Sale Scheme. Given the large crop, the government also ruled out the industry's desire to ease the export ban on wheat products.

Subodh Kumar Singh, additional secretary in the Union food ministry, released a private wheat crop estimate at an event organised by the Roller Flour Millers' Federation of India, saying reasons for projecting higher output this year are, first, a 3-5% increase in wheat acreage, second, production loss due to untimely rains and hailstorms would be about 1-2 million tonnes, and third, an additional 5-5.5 million tonne production over the previous year.

The additional secretary stated that there is quality loss due to recent rains and that the government has taken a timely decision to ease procurement restrictions for Madhya Pradesh, where grain with lustre loss is purchased at MSP. He stated that the government is examining proposals from the governments of Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh.

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