Chandigarh, Apr 18 (PTI) To ensure unhindered procurement process during the ongoing Rabi marketing season 2021-22, the Punjab government has approved the packaging of wheat in good quality used gunny bags provided by 'Arhtiyas' (commission agents), an official statement said here on Sunday.
The statement said that this would ensure that there is no shortage of gunny bags in any 'mandi' of Punjab, even as it pointed out that while the arrival of wheat in mandis has increased to 8 lakh metric tonne per day there is a “nationwide shortage of new gunny bags and new PP (polypropylene) bags for storage of the procured wheat”.
PP woven bags are largely used in storing and transporting agricultural products.
Chief Minister Amarinder Singh reviewed the status of procurement with senior officials.
Regarding the issue of slow pace of purchase in the border districts of Amritsar, Gurdaspur, Tarn Taran and Ferozepur, it was explained by the officials that the grain of wheat in these areas is shriveled and accordingly there is a relaxation in procurement specifications required from Government of India before it can be purchased.
The Punjab government has, on April 16, already written to the Centre to grant immediate relaxation in the uniform specifications of wheat in respect of shriveled and broken grains up to 11 per cent and luster loss up to 10 per cent in the districts of Amritsar, Tarn Taran and Fazilka without any value cut.
However, the reply from the Centre is still awaited, the statement said. The Chief Minister directed the Food and Supplies Minister and the Principal Secretary, Food and Civil Supplies to immediately resolve the matter by pursuing it with their counterparts in the Union government. The statement said that in the joint analysis of wheat samples in revenue district Amritsar and Tarn Taran conducted by Food Corporation of India and the State procurement agencies, luster loss upto 5 per cent and shriveled and broken grains upto 11 per cent have been found in a few mandis of these districts which is more than the prescribed limit.
Likewise, in the case of Fazilka the percentage of shriveled and broken grains has been found upto 9.9 percent which is in excess of the prescribed limit of 6 percent.
Clearing misconceptions about reports appearing in a section of the media that FCI was refusing to purchase HD-2967 variety of wheat in the districts of Bathinda and Mansa, the Additional Chief Secretary, Agriculture stated that it was an approved variety of wheat by both the Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) Ludhiana as well as the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR). Hence, there should be no refusal to purchase by any procurement agency, he said.
The Chief Minister directed the officials of FCI to immediately dispel any doubts in the minds of people and purchase this particular variety of wheat without further hitch.
Punjab's Chief Secretary Vini Mahajan informed the Chief Minister that adequate measures have been put in place in the mandis to ensure strict compliance with the Covid safety protocols in view of the spread of the pandemic.
Special vaccination camps have been set up in the mandis to facilitate vaccination of farmers, Arhtiyas and labour, she disclosed. Principal Secretary, Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs, K A P Sinha said that 38.95 lakh MT wheat has arrived in the mandis till April 17, out of which 34.40 lakh MT stands procured at Rs 1975 per quintal MSP. He further said that 85 per cent of the wheat purchased has been lifted within the prescribed period of 72 hours. He also informed that payments to the farmers had started and would pick up pace from Monday onwards after the banks reopen. PTI SUN MR