Wheat procurement down to 195 LMT compared to 433 LMT last year; govt says it has ample stocks
New Delhi, May 4 (IANS) Stating that wheat procurement is down this year compared to last year, the Centre on Wednesday assured that it has ample stocks of wheat and rice to cater to the domestic needs, even when more and more farmers are turning to sell their produce in open markets aimed at exports.
Due to early summer, food grain production is estimated at 1,050 lakh metric tonnes (LMT) against the earlier estimate of 1,113 LMT.
While on the one hand, large wheat growing areas experienced early heat wave this year, impacting wheat production, on the other hand, due to the Russia-Ukraine war -- both countries are largest exporters of wheat -- there is a large-scale demand in the international market.
As of now, the procurement of wheat this year, i.e., 2022-23, has been only 195 LMT compared to 433 LMT in 2021-22. Compared to 273 LMT in 2021-22, the opening balance this year is 190 LMT, which makes the total availability 385 LMT this year, compared to 706 LMT last year.
Of these, 305 LMT will be required to be allocated/distributed to the beneficiaries under the National Food Security Act (NFSA), Other Welfare Scheme (OWS), and Pradhan Mantri Gareeb Kalyan Ann Yojana (PMGKAY).
"The Food Corporation of India (FCI) has closing stocks of 80 LMT, as against the minimum stocking norms of 75 LMT as on April 1. However, from the overall grain management side, we are still in a surplus situation," Food Secretary Sudhanshu Pandey told reporters here.
"Due to the increased market price and higher demand by private players, the purchase by the government is less (this year), but the farmers are getting good prices. And, even when the closing stock is 80 LMT this year, we are in fact happy. From next year, we are switching to fortified rice for PDF/ICDS/PM Poshan, everywhere. So, it is incumbent upon the government in a manner that we procure fortified rice and distribute it," Pandey added.
The government has also decided to allocate 55 LMT rice in place of wheat in PMGKAY for the states that asked for it.
"The re-allocation order came after consultation with all the states. For 25 states, there is no change. Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh -- all wheat preferring states -- will get 100 per cent wheat and the rice preferring southern states will get all rice," Pandey said.