The Centre has decided to allow FCI to procure wheat in Punjab and Haryana including UT of Chandigarh for central pool by relaxing the FAQ of shrivelled and broken grains upto 18 % without any value cut. This decision will reduce the hardship of farmers and avoid distress sale of wheat.
The state governments of Punjab and Haryana wrote to the Department of Food and Public Distribution (DFPD) seeking relaxation in Uniform Specifications of Wheat for RMS 2022-23. The limit of shrivelled and broken grains is 6 % and relaxation was sought upto 20 %.
Central teams were deputed to Punjab and Haryana during April – May 2022 to collect very large size samples from the Mandis and these were analysed in FCI labs. The results indicated presence of shrivelled and broken grains in varying percentages and beyond FAQ norms.
The emergence of shrivelled grains is a natural phenomenon appearing as a result of extreme heat wave that enveloped the northern part of the country in the month of March. These adverse weather conditions are beyond the control of the farmers and hence, they should not be penalized for such natural occurrence. Accordingly, the change in texture of the grain deserves to be sympathetically considered by government to ease the hardship of farmers. Thus, suitable relaxation in FAQ norms would protect interests of farmers and promote efficient procurement and distribution of Food grains.
During the RMS 2021-22, wheat production was 1095 LMT and procurement was 433 LMT. During RMS 2022-23, wheat production was estimated at 1113 LMT. But early onset of Summer (by end of March 2022) resulted in shrivelled grains and resultant drop in yield per acre in Punjab and Haryana. The all-India procurement target has been revised to 195 LMT of wheat.
A similar decision was also taken in 2020-21 when FAQ norms were relaxed upto 16 % to protect the interest of the farmers.