The government on Monday said there is sufficient wheat stock in the country and that it will take action against hoarders, if needed, to boost domestic supply.
The Centre may consider steps like asking for disclosure of wheat stocks by traders and imposing stock limits to augment domestic availability. Addressing the 82nd AGM of Roller Flour Millers Federation of India, Food Secretary Sudhanshu Pandey said there is no problem of wheat in the country and the Centre has 24 million tonne of wheat in godowns of state-owned FCI. The secretary pointed out that wheat prices have gone up due to “speculative trading”.
Pandey said the government’s wheat production forecast is around 105 million tonne in rabi season of 2021-22 crop year (July-June) while the trade estimates are 95-98 million tonne. Even if trade estimates are to be believed, Pandey said the production is enough to meet the domestic demand. The country has exported 4.5 million tonne of wheat so far this fiscal year. Out of that, 2.1 million tonne were shipped before imposition of ban on wheat exports on May 13.
India exported 7.2 million tonne of wheat in previous fiscal year. “There is no problem of wheat availability within the country. Overall quantity which we need for domestic requirement is available in the country,” Pandey asserted. The government will take necessary steps, if needed, to ensure adequate wheat supply in the market, he said. “There has been an impact on prices because of speculative trading,” he said, adding people have hoarded wheat in anticipation of further price rise. Pandey pointed out that wheat is coming slowly into the market as speculators are still hoarding in anticipation of price rise.
“Our wheat stock position is comfortable. We have 24 million tonne in the central pool,” he said. The government is making efforts to raise wheat production in the coming rabi (winter sown) season. “Adequate wheat is available in the country. We will take steps if needed to bring out the grain into the market,” Pandey said. To check hoarding and black marketing, the secretary noted that the requirements of disclosure of wheat stocks by traders could be the first stage before imposition of stock limits.
India’s wheat production is estimated to have declined to 106.84 million tonne in 2021-22 crop year from 109.6 million tonne in the previous year due to heat waves in certain states like Punjab and Haryana. The government’s wheat procurement fell drastically to around 19 million tonne in 2022-23 marketing year (April-March) compared with 43 million tonne in the previous year. This forced the Centre to impose ban on wheat exports and also supply more rice instead of wheat through ration shops.