ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Managing Quality of Cereal Grains

Managing Quality of Cereal Grains

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The Food Corporation of India (FCI) has proposed uniform tightening of the fair average quality specifications for procurement of wheat and rice amid farmers’ ongoing fierce protest against new agricultural laws. The proposed revisions in the core specifications to control the quality of wheat procured by FCI comprise reduction in moisture content from 14% to 12%, dropping the permissible limit of foreign matter from 0.75% to 0.50%, and decrease in slightly damaged grains from 4% to 2%. The procurement of wheat under the central pool has begun in Haryana on 1 April 2021. The Government of Haryana (GoH) has arbitrarily implemented FCI’s proposed specification for a reduction in moisture and foreign matter content in wheat procured from the farmers in the current rabi marketing session. However, due to the non-compliance of new strict quality specifications, the procurement agencies have rejected a large number of stocks of wheat from the ongoing procurement operations in the state. The procurement agencies are not buying wheat even with a previously available option of a value cut if it does not meet the standard of low moisture. The GoH new quality control specification for dryness in wheat stock requires much better storage facilities which are not affordable to farmers of the state.

Even the moisture content in wheat largely depends on agroclimatic conditions that vary from one region of the country to another. Similarly, the presence of broken grains is mainly a fallout of harvesting technology. The available technology in the country is not sufficient for meeting the FCI stringent norms on the natural size of wheat. Likewise, the extent of foreign matter in wheat depends on the effectiveness of herbicides used by the farmers. In this way, these strict quality specifications for the procurement of farm produce have led to the distressed sale of wheat in the state. The wheat farmers have perceived these higher standards of procurement as another setback to the government assurance of buying their agricultural produce at minimum support price (MSP). Consequently, these new norms have triggered a series of farmers’ protests in Punjab and Haryana to save FCI.

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