Punjab: Ban on wheat exports ‘anti-farmer’ move, says Punjab Farmers Union
The central government has banned wheat exports this year to control high prices amid concerns over lower wheat production.
According to the government, the decision will help control the retail price of wheat and wheat flour, which has grown by an average of 14-20 per cent in the last one year, in addition to meeting the food demand of neighboring and weaker countries.
Several farmers in Punjab, especially large wheat farmers, have saved their crops in the hope of making more profit later, farmers said.
“This is an anti-farmer decision,” said Sukhdev Singh Kokrikalan, general secretary of the Bharti Kisan Union (Ekta Ugrahan) on Monday.
He said the increase in prices in the domestic market as a result of the export ban would hurt farmers who stockpile crops in the hope of making more profit.
Bharti Kisan Union (Lakhowal) general secretary Harinder Singh Lakhowal also condemned the central government’s decision.
“This decision is not in the interest of the farmers,” Lakhowal said, adding that the government should have continued to export to take advantage of the high prices in the international market.
Shiromani Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Singh Badal on Sunday condemned the Centre’s decision to ban wheat exports, saying the move would reduce crop demand and hurt farmers the most.
The Punjab government on Sunday directed all the 232 mandis in the state to continue procurement of wheat at Minimum Support Price (MSP) till May 31.
On Sunday, state Food and Civil Supplies Minister Lal Chand Kataruchak said a ban on wheat exports was likely to reduce foodgrain prices in the domestic market.
“As a result, some farmers who later saved wheat production in the hope of getting higher prices, may now reconsider and decide to sell wheat. Therefore, it was important for them to have access to government procurement facility at MSP to avoid distressed sales,” Kataruchak said.
Wheat production in Punjab is expected to decline by about 3 million metric tonnes (MT) to 147 metric tonnes due to adverse effects on crop yields due to sudden high temperatures in March.
Wheat procurement from Punjab is also expected to miss the target of 132 lakh metric tonnes due to low yields.
According to official data, out of the total arrival of 102.27 lakh metric tonnes of foodgrains in the grain market so far, government procurement agencies bought 96.17 lakh metric tonnes and private traders bought 6.10 lakh metric tonnes.
Naresh Ghai, president of the Punjab Roller Flower Millers Association, however, welcomed the Centre’s move, saying the ban on exports would help stabilize wheat prices.
He said the price of wheat in Mandi in Madhya Pradesh and other states has gone up by Rs 2,200 per quintal.
The Center had earlier relaxed procurement rules in Punjab and Haryana to allow up to 18 per cent shredded wheat grains.
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