State-run Food Corporation of India (FCI) sold 24.61 lakh tonnes of wheat under the Open Market Sale Scheme (OMSS) to bulk users in the first six months of this fiscal.
In the entire last fiscal 2015-16, FCI had offloaded about 70 lakh tonnes of wheat under the scheme.
"About 24.61 lakh tonnes of wheat has been sold via tender process under the OMSS in the April-September period of this year," a senior Food Ministry official told PTI.
The bulk of the quantity has been purchased by private players under this scheme. Wheat has been sold at Rs 1,640 per quintal plus freight charges. The sales had actually picked up from June and are still continuing, the official said.
Asked if the OMSS wheat sales will be discontinued as the Centre has cut import duty on the grain, the official said, "We have not yet taken any decision on that."
On September 23, the government had reduced the import duty on wheat from 25 per cent to 10 per cent till February 2017 to boost domestic supplies.
Despite higher production estimates, the FCI's wheat procurement remained low at 22.9 million tonnes as against the target of 30.5 million tonnes set for the 2016-17 marketing year (April-March). The bulk of the procurement was done during April-June.
Wheat production has been pegged at 93.50 million tonnes for the 2015-16 crop year (July-June) compared to 86.53 million tonnes in the previous year, according the Agriculture Ministry's fourth advance estimate.
However, the industry is estimating wheat output to be lower at 85-86 million tonnes for 2015-16.