New Delhi: In relief to farmers, the Centre on Sunday said it has relaxed quality norms for procurement of wheat in Punjab and Haryana in the ongoing 2022-23 marketing year.
Union food ministry, in a statement, said the Fair and Average Quality (FAQ) of wheat with shriveled and broken grains has been relaxed up to 18 percent without any value cut.
Nodal agency Food Corporation of India (FCI) has been allowed to procure wheat at relaxed quality norms in Punjab and Haryana, including Chandigarh, it said.
”This decision will reduce the hardship of farmers and avoid distress sale of wheat,” the ministry said.
IMF says is concerned by food, fertilizer export restrictions; welcomes India's decision to relax ban on wheat exports
Punjab and Haryana governments had requested the Centre to relaxation in quality norms for wheat in the ongoing 2022-23 marketing year (April-March). The limit of shriveled and broken grains is 6 percent and relaxation was sought for up to 20 percent.
A similar decision was also taken in 2020-21 when FAQ norms were relaxed up to 16 percent to protect the interest of the farmers.
According to the ministry, there was the presence of shriveled and broken grains in varying percentages and beyond FAQ norms in samples collected and analyzed by the central teams which visited these two states in April-May.
The emergence of shriveled grains is a natural phenomenon appearing as a result of an extreme heatwave that enveloped the northern part of the country in March.
These adverse weather conditions are beyond the control of the farmers and hence, they should not be penalized for such natural occurrences. Accordingly, the change in the texture of the grain deserves to be sympathetically considered by the government to ease the hardship of farmers.
”Thus, suitable relaxation in FAQ norms would protect interests of farmers and promote efficient procurement and distribution of foodgrains,” the ministry added.
On Saturday, food secretary Sudhanshu Pandey said the government’s wheat procurement has reached 18 million tonnes so far in the current marketing year.
It could reach 18.5 million tonnes maximum, much lower than the earlier estimate of 19.5 million tonnes and the initial target of 44.4 million tonnes for this year, he said.
In the 2021-22 marketing year, wheat procurement stood at 43.3 million tonnes. The fall in procurement, the ministry officials attributed, to increased private buying for export purposes and a slight decline in the country’s production.
Total wheat production is expected to be 105-106 million tonnes this year, as against 109.5 million tonnes in the previous year.