Chandigarh, May 11 : Despite slow and delayed arrivals for most part of April, food grain states Punjab and Haryana are heading for a bumper wheat crop this season, officials said here Wednesday.

Wheat procurement in Punjab and Haryana has crossed the 170 lakh tonne-mark, food and supplies officials said. The two states have procured nearly 171 lakh tonnes of wheat till Tuesday evening.

While Punjab accounted for over 105 lakh tonnes, Haryana procured a record 65.55 lakh tonnes.

Punjab's wheat procurement during the entire last season was just over 102.7 lakh tonnes.

"Haryana has recorded its second highest arrival of wheat. Over 65.55 lakh tonnes of wheat has already arrived in the various grain markets as against total arrival of 63.61 lakh tonnes last year," Haryana Food and Supplies Minister H.S. Chatha said here.

The highest wheat arrival of 69.24 lakh tonnes was recorded in 2009-10.

Chatha said the state had already surpassed its wheat target of 65 lakh tonnes set for the current season.

In Punjab, the initial delay in the arrival of wheat, due to erratic weather that delayed the ripening of the crop, has not only been covered up but also surpassed in just a fortnight.

Till April 25, the first 25 days after procurement officially started in Punjab April 1, the arrival was just half of the wheat procured in the same period in 2010.

"The wheat started arriving in bulk after April 25. Most of the grain markets have run out of space to store the wheat which is still coming. I hope it doesn't rain in Punjab now. Otherwise, the stock lying in the open will be damaged," Baldev Singh, a food and supplies official told IANS at Khanna grain market, the largest grain market in Asia, 55 km from here.

In Punjab, over 99.8 percent of wheat has been procured by six government agencies - five of the state government and the central government's Food Corporation of India (FCI).

The agencies have made payments of over Rs.11,000 crore to farmers in the last 40 days in Punjab alone.

Ferozepur, Sangrur and Ludhiana districts were leading in procurement. The state government has set up 1,734 procurement centres across the state.

In Haryana, Sirsa, Fatehabad and Jind districts led in wheat procurement.

Punjab and Haryana contribute over 70 percent of the total food grain to the national kitty.

The Punjab government had recently asked the central government to transport earlier stocks of wheat and rice out of warehouses to store the new stock.

The state government is also demanding the setting up of modern silos for storing grains instead of the traditional warehouses where stocks are often piled up in the open and are exposed to rain, pilferage and other problems.


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