Madhya Pradesh witnessed unusual rain for around 10 hours on Thursday in various districts– attributed to Cyclone Nisarga – which according to experts, damaged an estimated 23 lakh metric tonnes of wheat and other crops in the state.
Reports and photos coming in from various Mandis in the state indicate that a huge quantity of wheat had been lying in open in the Mandis owing to the ongoing wheat procurement drive, which got damaged in the incessant rain.
“Some of the wet grain which was lying in the open had been sold while some of it was unsold,” said farmer leader Kedar Sirohi. “Now, farmers are left in the lurch because Mandi officials may refuse to purchase the unsold wet grain because of quality issues. Farmers have been waiting in queue for days,” he said.
"The wheat has been damaged and farmers will suffer because the state government made no arrangements to save the crops despite an alert about rainfall due to Cyclone Nisarga," he added.
Following news of damage to the wheat, the Opposition Congress has attacked the Government accusing for being careless. Making a sharp comment on the BJP government, former CM Kamal Nath said, “Lakhs of metric tonnes of wheat got damaged resulting in loss of crores of rupees. Warning of Cyclone Nisarga was given earlier but the government overlooked it. Hence, the state government is responsible for the damage.”
After criticism from the media and Opposition over the issue, CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Home Minister Narottam Mishra gave an assurance that all the grain will be procured. During a video conference with district collectors on Thursday, Chouhan asked them to assure all farmers standing outside Mandis that all the wheat will be procured by the government.
In a contrary statement, Shiv Shekhar Shukla,Principal Secretary, state food and civil supplies department, however, denied reports of damage to the wheat, saying that all district collectors have reported that there was no damage to the wheat due to the rainfall.
Storage space fell short due to bumper crop
State Agriculture Department had estimated that about 100 lakh metric tonnes of wheat will be produced and storage arrangements were made for the same. However, there was bumper production of wheat this year. Official figures indicate that 128 lakh metric tonne of wheat has been procured till date and more is in progress.
Madhya Pradesh Warehousing Corporation said that arrangements for storage of 100 lakh metric tonnes was made which included taking over private godowns for the purpose. “Our warehouses contain 32 lakh tonnes of wheat from the previous season. For this season, the government asked us to make arrangements for about 100 lakh metric tonnes," convener of State Warehousing Corporation Employees Union Anil Vaipayee said.
But till date, the government has procured 128 Lakh metric tonnes of wheat, far more than the estimate. Though the Corporation tried to protect the wheat from the rain by erecting covers over it, there wasn't enough time as Cyclone Nisarga caused early rainfall.
Wheat procurement in MP started from April 16 and was to end in May. However, considering long queues of farmers at different Mandis seen across the state, the government extended the procurement date to June 5.