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No damage to procured wheat, says Chouhan

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan. File

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan. File   | Photo Credit: A. M. Faruqui

There were reports that stocks lying in the open were damaged in the rain

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan asserted on Friday that no procured wheat was damaged in the untimely rain following cyclone Nisarga.

There had been reports of stocks lying in the open being battered and swept away in some districts.

This year, Madhya Pradesh claims to have made its highest-ever procurement of 125.6 lakh MT of wheat, only behind Punjab. It had moved around 94% of the stocks to warehouses, before rain battered the Ujjain and the Indore divisions, and parts of the Bhopal division where procurement is under way. Over days, central and northwestern districts have witnessed rain too.

Mr. Chouhan blamed his predecessor Kamal Nath for not making enough arrangements for procurement. “Wheat is being weighed in some areas. You have seen queues of farmers at centres. We tried to cover the wheat, but some are drenched. It will dry now. The wheat is safe.”

No loss to farmers

On Thursday, Mr. Chouhan reassured farmers that they would not suffer any loss. “The endeavour is to ensure that there is no loss to farmers. Payment will be credited into their accounts. This is the responsibility of the government,” he said.

The procurement, scheduled to conclude on May 31, was extended until Friday even as several farmers scrambled to reach centres with movement restrictions beginning to ease. “The procurement had already started late owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. While the process has concluded in most districts, it’s going on mainly in Ujjain, Bhopal and Indore now, all badly hit by infections,” said an official of the Department of Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Protection, requesting anonymity.

The official said orders had been issued in advance to districts to cover grains lying in the open with tarpaulins in anticipation of rain. “The rain forecast prompted us expedite the transport of wheat to warehouses. Still, there was no damage to stocks lying in the open. In any case, they will dry and we fumigate the stocks regularly to prevent damage caused by insects,” he said.

The claim contradicts reports from centres, especially in the Malwa-Nimar region. “While many procurement centres are attached with warehouses, where stocks are safely stored, several in rural areas are standalone facilities. There is no arrangement to store or dry stocks there,” said an agriculture scientist with the State government.

If jute sacks are drenched in the rain, moisture levels shoot up multiple times over the 12% maximum prescribed standard for stocking, said the scientist. “Water can easily seep through the sacks and reach the soil making it wet and causing inevitable decay of grains” he explained.

Kamal Nath’s charge

Mr. Nath has accused the Chouhan government of negligence in preventing the damage. “Despite rain alerts in the days preceding cyclone Nisarga, the government did not act in time and this has resulted in the large-scale damage to wheat and losses running into crores,” he said.

The government made tall claims about procurement, but the reality was different, he said. “There is no proper arrangement for the transport and storage of acquired wheat.”

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Printable version | Jul 16, 2020 8:31:57 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/no-damage-to-procured-wheat-says-chouhan/article31762633.ece

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