FCI expects to procure 145 lakh tonnes of wheat this season

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Chandigarh, Feb 27 (UNI) The wheat procurement target for 2008-09 has been fixed between 135 lakh tonnes to 145 lakh tonnes as the Food Corporation of India (FCI) expects a bumper crop from Punjab and Haryana.

"The target may even touch 150 lakh tonnes, as the two states are expecting a bumper crop this year", FCI Chairman-cum-Managing Director (CMD) Alok Sinha said today after meeting with senior officials and agricultural experts and state procurement agency officers of Punjab and Haryana.

Addressing a media conference here after the meeting, Mr Sinha said that Punjab is expected to contribute 85 lakh tonnes while Haryana's contribution to the central pool will touch 40 lakh tonnes this season. Besides these two states, the other states expected to contribute are western UP, Uttarakhand and parts of Rajasthan.

Besides the bumper crop, another reason for an increase in the procurement this season is the Rs 250 per quintal increase in the Minimum Support Price (MSP) of wheat, the CMD said while hoping that the Rs 1000 per quintal MSP would encourage farmers to bring their stocks to the markets. In the last season (2007-08) the FCI procured 112 lakh tonnes which was below the fixed target, he said while acknowledging that farmers had resorted to hoarding in the hope that they would get a higher price later in the year, which actually never happened.

The third factor which would increase the arrivals in the market this season was the fact that the wheat prices in the country had remained stable and even come down in the last few months despite an increase in the international market due to a poor crop in Australia, Mr Sinha said.

Referring to buffer wheat stocks, the CMD said that in April last year it stood at 40 lakh tonnes while on April one this year it is expected to be 53 lakh tonnes. The avaliability of buffer stocks will stablise the price line and improve the procurement this season starting from April, he added.

"The buffer stock of wheat should be around 180 lakh tonnes and going by this figure we have fixed the procurement target between 135 lakh tonnes to 145 lakh tonnes", he added.

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