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States hopeful of incentives from Centre to farmers for staggered wheat arrival

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Cereal bowl states of Punjab and Haryana are eagerly awaiting nod on incentive scheme from the Centre to encourage farmers for a staggered wheat arrival fearing that procurement sans crowds in mandis would be a herculean task. A glut in arrival of wheat in coming weeks is suspected as the federal procurement is delayed by over two-weeks due to lockdown to curb spread of Covid-19.

The federal wheat procurement in India has been deferred to April 15 and the states needs to maintain social distancing during the 45-50 day long marketing season that usually witnesses convergence of farmers across districts.

“We are expecting a positive response from Centre for the incentive scheme proposed by the state,” additional chief secretary (ACS), food, civil supplies and consumer affairs, PK Das told ET. Haryana, in its proposal, has suggested remuneration of Rs 1,925 per quintal of wheat between April 20 and June 5, Rs 1,975 between May 6 and May 31, and Rs 2,050 in June.

As there is little scope to extend procurement further, states are hammering out strategies to check spread of the viral disease to villages including staggered arrival of crop by roping in rice mills, cotton factories, panchayat land to store grain at villages around collection centres.

The federal procurement of crops, mainly wheat, lures crowds of farmers, mandi officials and others to collection centres and mandis across Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.

“Punjab has curtailed the timings for the use of combine harvesters to day time to slow down wheat harvesting,” a senior official of Food Civil Supplies & Consumer Affairs in Punjab said. He said grounds available with rice mills, cotton factories, panchayats land in villages near 1800 wheat collection centres would be roped in to avoid crowds at mandis.

The procurement by government agencies will commence in Punjab and Uttar Pradesh on April 15, while Haryana has announced it from April 20.

Punjab has also requested a proposal for higher incentive to farmers for delaying the arrival of crop. “The scheme would be implemented only if centre approves it,” a senior government official in Punjab said.


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