The government's wheat procurement fell by 53 per cent to 182 lakh tonnes so far in the current 2022-23 marketing year compared to the year-ago period on aggressive buying by private players for export purposes, according to official sources.
The rabi marketing year runs from April to March but the bulk of procurement ends by June. An all-time high of 433.44 lakh tonnes of wheat was procured in the previous marketing year.
State-owned Food Corporation of India (FCI) and state agencies undertake procurement at the minimum support price to meet the requirement under the public distribution system (PDS) and other welfare schemes.
The wheat procurement target has been revised downward to 195 lakh tonnes for the current year from the earlier 444 lakh tonnes due to a fall in wheat output and increased exports.
According to official sources, wheat procurement by government agencies remained lower in all key growing states of Punjab, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.
The government's wheat procurement declined to 96 lakh tonnes so far in the 2022-23 marketing year, when compared with 132 lakh tonnes in the year-ago period.
Similarly, wheat procurement in Haryana declined to 40 lakh tonnes from 84 lakh tonnes, while that of Madhya Pradesh dropped to 42 lakh tonnes from 118 lakh tonnes during the comparable period.
In Uttar Pradesh, wheat procurement fell sharply to 2.64 lakh tonnes in the 2022-23 marketing year against 33 lakh tonnes in the year-ago period.
In the case of Rajasthan, procurement was just 1,010 tonnes compared to 16 lakh tonnes in the comparable period, the sources added.
Sources attributed the sharp decline in the government's procurement to aggressive buying by private players for export purposes.
On May 13, the government banned wheat exports to control price rise.
Wheat production is estimated to decline to 106.41 million tonnes in the 2021-22 crop year (July-June) from a record 109.59 million tonnes in the previous year, as per the third estimate of the Agriculture Ministry.