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Government Sets Wheat Procurement Target at 34.15 Mt

34.15 million tonnes of wheat procurement target has been set by the government for the financial year 2023-24 starting from April. It is higher than the 18.79 million tonnes purchased in the previous year.

Vaishnavi Barthwal
The state governments were requested to establish procurement centers for coarse grains in producing districts, particularly in tribal regions.
The state governments were requested to establish procurement centers for coarse grains in producing districts, particularly in tribal regions.

The target was set during a meeting of state food secretaries held with state food ministries to discuss procurement arrangements. The meeting was presided by the Food Secretary, Sanjeev Chopra.

Punjab is aiming to produce 2.5 million tonnes with Haryana aiming at 1.5 and Madhya Pradesh aiming for 2 million tonnes out of the total wheat procurement target, said the food ministry in a statement.

A fall in domestic production and higher exports were the two main reasons for the decline of wheat procurement last year. However, according to the agriculture ministry's second estimate, the government expects a record-breaking 112.18 million tonnes of wheat to be produced in the crop year 2023–24 (July–June).

Along with wheat, the government has set a 10.6 million tonne rabi (winter) rice procurement target for the marketing year 2022–2023.

States have been urged to increase their capacity for milling rice so that one season's milling can be finished before the start of the next and rice recycling can be prevented.

The quantity of millets and coarse grains expected to be purchased this year is 7,50,000 tonnes, up from 6,30,000 tonnes in 2021–22. According to the statement, Karnataka would purchase 6,000 tonnes of millet this year.

Food Minister Piyush Goyal asked all state governments to begin using smart PDS as soon as possible in a separate speech at the conference. The union minister stated that FCI is turning godowns into five-star rated ones, and the state governments can also upgrade their godowns.

All the state governments were instructed during the meeting to learn from Karnataka’s practice of using millet in programs like the mid-day meal and the Public Distribution System (PDS), which helps to add nutrition and encourage a healthy diet.

States were urged to procure more coarse grains and millets. The state governments were requested to establish procurement centres for coarse grains in producing districts, particularly in tribal regions. It was requested that state governments promote the consumption of coarse grains as well.

The conference also discussed how to effectively raise knowledge of the advantages of fortified rice in order to combat anaemia and nutritional deficiencies in different regions of the nation.

The challenges surrounding the One Nation One Ration Card scheme and the smart Public Distribution System (PDS) for seamless foodgrain supply to beneficiaries who are migrants were also discussed.

The government's designated agency, FCI (Food Corporation of India), handles the procurement and distribution of food grains for PDS and welfare programs.

All states have been urged to learn about and adopt the techniques discussed in order to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of their systems. The best practice of the command control center by Andhra Pradesh for real-time data on the purchase, storage, quality, and distribution of food grains was also discussed.

In order to increase efficiency and transparency in procurement operations, it was also discussed to implement additional minimum threshold parameters for online procurement operations, such as the integration of power validation of milled rice quantity with electricity consumption and tracking of vehicles used for transporting food grains.

The debate revealed that there are enough jute bags available to meet the demand for the coming season. Deliberations also included matters such as the completion of audited finances, food subsidy claims, and food subsidy rationalization.

Also, state governments have been requested to send any pending bills to FCI so that they can be settled in March 2023.

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