Millennium Post

Govt's wheat buys up 3-fold to 14.58 mt so far this year

The government's wheat purchase has increased nearly three-fold to 14.58 million tonnes so far in the 2016-17 marketing year starting this month, Parliament was informed on Tuesday. Wheat procurement was 5 million tonnes in the year-ago.

Food Corporation of India (FCI) and state agencies undertake wheat procurement at the support price. The government has kept a wheat procurement target of 30.5 mt for the current year, as against actual procurement of 28.08 mt in the last year. 

"The procurement as on April 21 was 14.58 million tonnes, which shows an increase of 9.70 million tonnes over the previous year," Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said in a written reply to the Lok Sabha. As per the trend, there may be adequate wheat procurement this year to meet the requirement under various welfare schemes including National Food Security Act (NFSA), he said.

Early arrival of good quality wheat crop has boosted procurement, a Food Ministry official said separately. Under NFSA, wheat requirement is around 27 mt for Public Distribution System and other welfare schemes. So far, 33 states have rolled out NFSA. Replying to a query on procurement of others crops, Paswan said: "The government is not considering expansion of procurement of any other crop at minimum support price on the lines of wheat and paddy procurement." To ensure there is uninterrupted procurement, the minister in a separate reply said the government has released a subsidy of Rs 25,834 crore to FCI as on April 22 for buying grains and to ensure its supply through ration shops. Although wheat marketing year runs from April-March, the bulk of procurement is done in the first three months.

As per the second advance estimate of the Agriculture Ministry, wheat production is expected to be higher at 93.82 million tonnes in 2015-16 crop year (July-June), as against 86.53 million tonnes in the last year.

As on April 1, FCI had foodgrain stock of 36.69 MT as against the actual requirement of 21.04 mt.  To a separate query on storage of foodgrains in FCI, Paswan said it has 1,889 godowns under its control with a storage capacity of 33.18 million tonnes. Of these, 1,345 godowns with 20.38 mt capacity are hired.

"No new proposal is being considered at present as sufficient godown capacity has been created in the last five years. Only godowns which have been sanctioned earlier and are yet to be constructed are being completed," the minister said.

However, the government has approved a road map of FCI for constructing modern silos in public private partnership in phased manner, he added. Replying to another query on depot online project, Paswan said the government is implementing the online project to automate all operations at FCI depot level. The project, which aims to bring transparency in food supply chain management of FCI, was launched in 31 depots across 27 states on March 17 this year.
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