It’s Time for a 10-Year-Plan that Says How Much Rice and Wheat Will Be Procured From Each State -Siraj Hussain and Jugal Mohapatra
Though there is no road map to reduce the production of wheat and rice, it is now possible to reduce India's dependence on Punjab and Haryana for food security by procuring from non-traditional states.
Since the enactment of three agriculture legislations by the Centre in September, sections of the media have rightly or wrongly projected Punjab, and to a much lesser extent Haryana, as a villain.
This has led many to believe that Punjab farmers have been exploiting the minimum support price (MSP) procurement mechanism. And it doesn’t help that the state’s stubble burning is now seen as the primary contributor to Delhi’s pollution, while other factors are seen as only minor irritants.
It is ironic that Punjab’s success in increasing its production and productivity of wheat and rice and setting up a smooth procurement ecosystem is being increasingly ignored in favour of other political narratives. At the height of the COVID-19 induced lockdown and restrictions, Punjab showed light by procuring 127.14 lakh tonne (LMT) of wheat in April and May 2020.
The main reason, however, for Punjab’s diminishing importance for India’s food security is the setting up of robust procurement machinery in Madhya Pradesh (wheat) and Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal (rice).
At the height of the global food crisis in 2007-08, wheat procurement in India was 111.2 LMT only. At the time, India’s Union food secretary had to travel to states to plead with them to procure more so that wheat import could be kept to a minimum. MP procured just 57,000 MT and UP’s contribution was a minuscule 54,000 MT. Punjab and Haryana contributed 67.8 LMT (61%) and 33.5 LMT (30%) of wheat respectively.
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TheWire.in, 19 November, 2020, https://thewire.in/agriculture/punjab-protests-rice-wheat-procurement-ten-year-plan-foood-security