Farmers in Delhi prefer to sell their wheat crop to private traders because they are offered rates higher than the minimum support price (MSP), the Food Corporation of India (FCI) has said.
In response to a query by a farmer from Delhi, a letter sent by the FCI’s Delhi unit on January 12 said procurement centres for wheat are set up every year at Narela and Najafgarh mandis and at the FCI depot in Mayapuri. “However, it has been noted that instead of bringing wheat produce to FCI centres, farmers prefer to sell it to private traders, because wheat and dhan (paddy) of Delhi region is generally of good quality and is bought by traders at or above the MSP,” FCI’s additional general manager (AGM) of quality control from Delhi unit said in the letter.
The AGM added that last year, wheat of good quality was bought by traders at a maximum rate of more than Rs 3,000 per quintal against its MSP of Rs 1,925 in Delhi.
Farmers from the capital and heads of the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) at Narela and Najafgarh, however, denied the FCI’s submission.
Najafgarh APMC chairman Naresh Sharma claimed, “This is false as procurement is done by traders largely below MSP at the mandi. The rate of wheat procurement this season has been around Rs 1,700. Stock from Madhya Pradesh, which is of better quality, was sold at Rs 3,000 but not that of Delhi farmers. We have been requesting FCI to do procurement here but they never do and do not even reply to our letters.”
Narela APMC chairman Sanjay Gupta also said wheat procurement by private traders has largely been below the MSP at the mandi this season.
In the letter, the AGM said the FCI procured 180 quintals of wheat from farmers in Delhi 2013-14. Data from the FCI website shows the total production of wheat in the capital that year was over 8.48 lakh quintal. In the following year there was no procurement by FCI but production was 7.63 lakh quintal. In 2015-16, the production was again 7.63 lakh quintal and procurement by FCI was 17,870 quintal. The next procurement by FCI was done in 2020-21, of 276.5 quintal against production of 8.25 lakh quintal.
On the four-year gap in procurement, an FCI official said: “Our staff members are present in the mandis every year when wheat produce begins to arrive in Delhi. They have noticed that farmers sell good quality wheat to private traders at a rate higher than the MSP. They then bring very poor quality of wheat to us — this does not meet our prescribed standards and cannot be procured.”
As per FCI staff, on a single day in April last year, maximum rate of wheat at the two mandis was Rs 2,750 and minimum Rs 1,725. In June, the maximum rate was Rs 3,100 and minimum Rs 1,760. The FCI official said the Delhi unit does not keep a record of the amount of wheat produce sold at the maximum and minimum price.
But at Najafgarh mandi, Deepak Yadav’s father, a farmer in Southwest Delhi’s Jhuljhuli village, sold his wheat produce in August to a trader for Rs 1,700 per quintal, as per a sales receipt he shared. Yadav said, “The government is trying to replicate the Delhi model for procurement in the rest of the country by bringing in the new agricultural reform laws. The FCI is lying that the produce is sold at a price higher than the MSP. They are trying to show to farmers that traders will offer them a better price, but it is not true.”