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Centre says no decision on wheat sale in open markets to cool down prices

Assures adequate stocks if PMGKAY extended beyond December

wheat | wheat stocks | Wheat production

Pratigya Yadav & Sanjeeb Mukherjee  |  New Delhi 

Wheat prices in the open market have climbed to new highs of around Rs 2,800 per quintal in North India

The government on Wednesday said no decision has been taken on liquidation of central stocks to cool down retail prices under the open market scheme.

At the same time, it assured that it has enough grains in its inventory if the free foodgrains programme is extended beyond December 2022.

Under the free foodgrains scheme called the Pradhan Mantri Gareeb Kalyan Ann Yojana (PMGKAY), the central government has been distributing 5 kg of and rice. This is over and above the usual monthly allocation to almost 800 million beneficiaries of the National Food Security Act.

The programme was started during the first Covid wave as a welfare measure. And, it has been extended seven times since then, the last being in September this year.

“No decision has been made in regard to PMGKAY extension and open market sale scheme (OMSS) sale or export restrictions being eased. The government will take a decision when the time is right,” food secretary Sanjeev Chopra told reporters on Wednesday.

Specifically, on OMSS for wheat, the secretary said that, the government is watching the situation and no decision has been taken.

prices in the open market have climbed to new highs of around Rs 2,800 per quintal in North India during the last few weeks against an MSP of Rs 2,125 per quintal due to severe shortage of supplies.

Some time back, a delegation of flour millers had met senior government officials to request them to offload at least 2-3 million tonnes of wheat in the open market from inventories to cool down prices.

On rising prices of wheat and flour, the secretary said, “Export regulations were put in place for wheat in May, followed by atta two months later. Then in September, we imposed restrictions on the export of broken rice, as a result of which, prices have cooled down.”

Since export regulations were put in May, wheat prices rose by 7 per cent, and after factoring the MSP increase, it is just 3-4 per cent. If we see any kind of abnormal increase in prices, the government will step in with the measures needed, he added.

Meanwhile, on paddy procurement, government figures showed that till November 21, 2022, around 27.73 million tonnes of paddy has been procured for the central pool. This is 5.28 per cent more than the procurement done in the same period last year.

On fortification of rice, in phase two of the programme, the secretary said the government’s focus is on 291 high-burden and aspirational districts. Of this, 240 districts have already been covered and 50 more will be covered by the end of the financial year, said the secretary.

The government is also giving Rs 0.73 per kg to the states towards fortification, he added.

Centre says no decision on wheat sale in open markets to cool down prices

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First Published: Wed, November 23 2022. 21:36 IST