Chandigarh: Punjab is headed for a record wheat procurement of 140 lakh tonnes this season, officials of the state food and supplies department said in Chandigarh on Tuesday.
"Punjab is all set for achieving a new record in wheat procurement as the state government would begin the biggest ever procurement operations in the state from April 1, 2013," a spokesman of the department said.
According to state agriculture department, 161.59 lakh tonnes of wheat production is expected this year. Bulk of the crop is expected to arrive in grain markets and procurement centres after Baisakhi, the harvest festival April 13.
Food and Civil Supplies Minister Adaish Partap Singh Kairon and Chief Secretary Rakesh Singh on Tuesday held a meeting with heads of all procurement agencies.
The state government will set up 1,770 procurement centres this time. The minimum support price (MSP) for wheat has been fixed at Rs.1,350 per quintal this time.
In 2012, Punjab had procured a record 129.35 lakh tonnes of wheat.
Over 95 per cent of the wheat produced in the state is procured by government agencies. These include the Punjab government's Pungrain, Markfed, Punsup, Punjab State Warehousing Corporation and Punjab Agro Industries and the central government's Food Corporation of India (FCI).
The spokesman said payment for the wheat procured would be made to farmers within 48 hours and the wheat stocks would be lifted within 72 hours.
He said arrangements were being made for availability of adequate number of gunny bags and also storage space for the wheat.
"The Punjab government had make arrangements for 65 lakh tonnes extra storage, besides available storage capacity in the state," he said.
Punjab is the biggest contributor (over 60 per cent) of food grain to the national kitty despite having just 1.54 per cent of the country's geographical area.