Wheat stocks likely to be 80% higher than buffer requirement by April 1 next year: Govt

The government on Friday said wheat stocks in FCI godowns is expected to be 134 lakh tonnes at the start of next fiscal, 80 per cent more than the buffer norm. In a written reply to Rajya Sabha, Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Piyush Goyal said the central pool stock of wheat as on July 1, 2022 is well above the foodgrains stocking norms.

“As on July 1, 2022, Food Corporation of India (FCI) and state government agencies have 285.10 lakh tonnes of wheat stock under central pool against the stocking norm of 275.80 lakh tonnes,” he said.

In the current 2022-23 marketing year, Goyal said the procurement of wheat has been about 188 lakh tonnes.

“…it is expected that even after meeting out the requirement of Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (up to September 2022) and Public Distribution System, the projected wheat stock as on April 1, 2023 would be 134 lakh tonnes against the stocking norm of 74.6 lakh tonnes,” the minister said.

Under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PM-GKAY), 5 kilograms free of cost foodgrains per person is distributed to around 80 crore people covered under the National Food Security Act (NFSA). This is over and above regular distribution of subsidised NFSA foodgrains (i.e. 35 kg per Antyodaya Anna Yojana family per month and 5 kg per month for priority household beneficiary).

The scheme, which was introduced first in April 2020, has been extended till September this year.

Goyal pointed out that wheat production estimate was revised to lower side due to early summer this year.

Also, there was a rise in global prices of wheat due to various geo-political reasons, he added.

“The government is committed to providing for the food security requirements of India first and also support the neighbouring and other vulnerable developing countries which are adversely affected by the sudden changes in the global market for wheat and are unable to access adequate wheat supplies,” Goyal said.

Therefore, he said, the central government amended the export policy of wheat from free to prohibited.

“As per the available stock and further projections up to April 2023, the country has enough stock of foodgrains to cater to the requiremnet of PDS and other welfare scheme and to meet out any other eventuality,” Goyal asserted.

On May 13, the government suspended wheat export with immediate effect.

It moved the export of all varieties of wheat, including high-protein durum, from ‘free’ to the ‘prohibited’ category. The decision was aimed at controlling the rising prices of wheat in the domestic market.

India had exported a record 7 million tonnes of wheat during 2021-22 fiscal.

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