Wheat Export Ban To Continue To Ensure Adequate Supplies In India: Goyal

Wheat Export Ban To Continue To Ensure Adequate Supplies In India: Goyal

India is the 2nd largest wheat producing country and is amongst the largest exporters and consumers of the commodity. In an effort to rein in rising domestic prices, India, the second-largest producer of wheat in the world, banned wheat exports in May 2022. 

India’s Wheat Status 

Wheat export restrictions will remain in place as India must ensure sufficient supplies of the food grain for its domestic market and maintain price stability, according to Union Minister Piyush Goyal’s statement on 13th of April. 

He stated that the first week of wheat purchases has begun, and the numbers are “very” satisfactory. The Commerce and Industry and Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Minister reported that, “I could believe that we will have a good harvest despite the unseasonal rains…We do believe that we will have to ensure adequate supplies for the Indian market and once the procurement period is over, we believe that it will be important that inflation is also contained in the country and therefore it is important that the wheat exports continue to remain banned.” 

Wheat Production Estimates 

According to recent statements made by Ashok K Meena, Chairman and Managing Director of the state-owned Food Corporation of India (FCI), higher wheat production estimates this year will guarantee sufficient supplies for both government purchases and general market consumption in India. 

According to the agriculture ministry’s second estimate, the government expects to produce a record 112.18 million tonnes of wheat in the crop year of 2023–24 (July–June). 

FCI godowns would have 84 lakh tonnes of wheat in stock on 1st April. The FCI is the designated government agency in charge of purchasing and distributing food grains for the PDS (public distribution system) and welfare programs. 

Due to a slight decrease in production brought on by heat waves and unseasonal rains, wheat procurement had decreased in the previous year. However, it is predicted that production will set a record this year and total 112.2 million tonnes. 

Government’s Procurement of Wheat 

To further prevent distressed sales and safeguard the interests of farmers, the Centre has loosened quality norms for wheat procurement in Punjab, Chandigarh, Haryana, and Rajasthan. The standing wheat crop that was ready for harvest in some areas of these states has been damaged by the recent untimely rainfall, hailstorm, and high velocity wind. The governments of these states have demanded the relaxation in procurement norms. 

Currently, procurement of wheat is underway in Madhya Pradesh, while there has been a delay in other states due to untimely rains. The procurement of wheat is undertaken by the FCI along with state agencies. 

Subodh Kumar Singh, the Additional Secretary of the Union Food Ministry mentioned on 11th March “After the field survey, we have relaxed the quality norms for the procurement of wheat in Punjab, Chandigarh, Haryana and Rajasthan in order to reduce hardship of farmers and to avoid distressed wheat sale.” 

The Centre has requested that when paying the farmers, these state governments deduct the imposed value cut from the minimum support price of Rs 2,125 per quintal. 

In the current 2023–24 marketing year, till April 10th (April–March), the government has bought 13.20 lakh tonnes of wheat, primarily from Madhya Pradesh. According to data from the food ministry, approximately 1,000 tonnes of wheat were purchased in Punjab during the same period, compared to 88,000 tonnes in Haryana.

When asked about the lower procurement in Punjab and Haryana, an official stated, “the delayed procurement was due to the untimely rains. The arrivals were not huge and therefore the procurement has not been much. However, in the next few days, the procurement of wheat in these two states will pick up.” 

In contrast to the 19 million tonnes acquired the year before, the Center plans to purchase 34.2 million tonnes of wheat during the current 2023–24 marketing year (April–March). 

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