State Agriculture Minister Surya Pratap Shahi said that the purchase targets were affected as government staff was deployed in election duty.
"Another reason could be that wheat-growers may have found the prices in the open market more lucrative," he said.
Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, who has been reviewing wheat procurement on a regular basis, has directed food department officials to ensure that purchase centres are functional and farmers do not face any hardship in selling their produce to the government.
The state Agriculture Department, this year, had enhanced the MSP of wheat to Rs 1,840 per quintal, and had even added an incentive of Rs 20 per quintal for transportation, to provide relief to distressed farmers.
However, the purchase has fallen below target.
According to estimates by government sources, the total purchase may not cross even 40 lakh MT.
A senior official in the agriculture department said that wheat production in the state was low this season as compared to the previous year and there could be an increase in market prices of wheat.
The Minister, however, disagreed and said that the estimated production of wheat in the state was nearly 380 lakh MT while last year it was nearly 356 lakh MT.
"Production and productivity of wheat has increased from 36.56 quintal to 37.58 quintal per hectare. The low procurement at government purchase centres is an indication that farmers are getting better prices at their farms itself," he explained
Food and Civil Supplies Commissioner Alok Kumar said that the purpose of providing MSP to farmers was to ensure that they are not exploited by traders.
If the farmers are selling the produce to traders, it means they are getting a better price, he added.