Wheat ban call as states revise procurement targets

The central government's sudden decision to ban wheat exports with immediate effect amid rising domestic prices comes after almost all wheat-producing states fell short of their procurement targets.

Just a fortnight ago, the government was bullish on wheat exports and one of the reasons for that was procurement inputs from the states.

Procurement in major producers Punjab and Haryana effectively ended on Thursday as no farmer has come to the government procurement centres in the past two days, people aware of the matter said. The procurement officially ends in the two states on Sunday.

Punjab, the largest wheat producing state, recorded a decline of 33 lakh metric tonnes in procurement.

Haryana revised the procurement target from 85 LMT to 43 LMT. Total procurement in the state has been 42.68 LMT against 84.82 LMT last year.

The Madhya Pradesh government was very gung-ho about exports and the state has issued a helpline to directly help the farmer in exporting wheat. The government reduced the revised procurement target from 130 LMT to 50 LMT. However, the state officials said even this could be difficult as current procurement is 41 LMT.

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MP has now increased the procurement season time to May 31, thinking that those who couldn't sell it to private players would come to government procurement centres.

UP procured 25.43 LMT as against targeted 60 LMT.

On April 28, RSS affiliated Bharatiya Kisan Sangh (BKS) had written to the agriculture minister demanding to increase government procurement through offering '500 per quintal as bonus price to states.

BKS now blames the commerce ministry for the sudden ban. We have noticed for the past few years that this commerce ministry, whenever it comes to the benefit of farmers, bans export, and later allows imports to meet the demand," Mohini Mohan, national general secretary, BKS, told ET. He said that BKS had demanded increasing government procurement not by banning export but increasing the price over MSP.

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