Government wheat purchases to be halved; No plans to curb exports: Minister of Food


New export markets such as Egypt, Turkey and some European Union countries are opening up for Indian wheat.

New export markets such as Egypt, Turkey and some European Union countries are opening up for Indian wheat.

The center’s wheat procurement will fall by more than half to 19.5 million tons in the current Rabi marketing year as exports rise and production is likely to fall, Food Minister Sudhanshu Pandey said on Wednesday, assuring there would be no concerns about satisfaction domestic demand within the public distribution system.

The minister also ruled out a possibility of imposing restrictions on wheat exports as farmers exceed the Minimum Support Price (MSP) for their produce.

At a press conference here, Mr Pandey said: “We see no need for export controls. … Wheat exports are ongoing and indeed the government is facilitating traders,” he said.

New export markets such as Egypt, Turkey and some European Union countries are opening up for Indian wheat. Agricultural export promotion organization APEDA is facilitating deliveries, he said.

Mr Pandey said private traders have signed contracts to export 4 million tonnes for the current quarter and 1 million tonnes have already been shipped.

Indian traders have a window for exports until June when the wheat crop arrives from Argentina, increasing global availability and easing pressure on India, he added.

Wheat exports reached a record 7 million tons in fiscal year 2021-22.

Amid rising demand for wheat for export, the minister said, farmers are selling their produce to private actors at more than the MSP. This has resulted in less procurement by government agencies.

The decline in government procurement, he claimed, is “in favor of farmers” as they become higher than the MSP offered by government agencies.

However, regarding the overall situation in the management of food grains, the minister said: “We are still in a surplus situation.” “…Government wheat procurement has decreased. But rice availability and procurement is sufficient to meet National Food Security Act demand,” he added.

Mr Pandey said government wheat procurement has reached 17.5 million tonnes so far and total purchases in marketing year 2022-23 are expected to reach 19.5 million tonnes, much less than last year, he added.

Another 2 million tons of wheat are to be procured from Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, he said.

Earlier, the government had set the wheat procurement target at 44.4 million tonnes for the 2022-23 marketing year, up from an all-time high of 433.44 lakh tonnes in the previous marketing year.

The Rabi marketing season lasts from April to March, but bulk sourcing ends in June.

Mr. Pandey attributed the decline in wheat procurement to several factors, including higher market prices for wheat in some states compared to the MSP, farmer and trader inventories in anticipation of further price increases, and lower-than-estimated production in some states.

The Department of Agriculture has revised the estimate for wheat production by 5.7% to 105 million tonnes for the 2021-22 crop year ending in June, down from the earlier forecast of 111.32 million tonnes as crop productivity eased due to the early start of was affected summer, he said.

India’s wheat production was 109.59 million tons in crop year 2020-21 (July-June).

The drop in estimates has been attributed to the “early summer” that has hit crop yields in states, particularly in Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, he added.

The state-owned Food Corporation of India (FCI) and other agencies undertake sourcing at a minimum support price to meet the requirements of the Public Distribution System (PDS) and other welfare systems.

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