Govt to sell 30 lakh tonnes of wheat in open market till March to control prices

The Centre on Wednesday announced that it will be off loading 30 lakh tonnes of wheat in the open market from its pool stock in order to keep in check the rising prices of wheat and wheat flour (atta).

The government will sell the wheat stock in open market within a span of two months through multiple channels will have wider reach to keep the prices of wheat and flour in check.

«The Food Corporation of India (FCI) will off load 30 lakh tonnes wheat from the central pool stock to the market through various routes under the Open Market Sale Scheme (Domestic),» the statement said.

The proposal was taken on Wednesday by a group of ministers, headed by Home Minister Amit Shah, to bring down the retail prices.

As per the government data, the average wheat prices across major cities stood at 33.43 per kilogram on Wednesday, up from 28.24 per kg a year-ago.

Average prices of atta (wheat flour) stood at 37.95 per kg as against 31.41 per kg a year ago.

While wheat will be sold to bulk consumers like flour millers through e-auction, the FCI will for a maximum quantity of 3000 MT per buyer, per auction, from a FCI Region under e-auction.

Wheat will also be offered to State Governments/UTs for their schemes without e-auction.

It will also be offered at a concessional rates of 2350 per quintal to state-owned PSUs/cooperatives/Federations, Kendriya Bhandar/NCCF/NAFED etc without e-auction. The sale under this special scheme will be subject to the stipulation that the buyer will convert wheat to atta and offer it to public at an Maximum Retail Price of Rs. 29.50 per kg.

The food ministry said that sales of wheat in the market through this scheme will have an «immediate impact on the soaring wheat and atta prices and will help containing the rising prices and will bring much relief to the common man».

The FCI will offload wheat within the next two months to the market.

It will start the process of e-auction of stocks immediately throughout the country during January to March 2023.

Last week, food secretary Sanjeev Chopra had said that prices of wheat and atta in the retail market have risen and the government was exploring all options to control the rates.

FCI, the government’s nodal agency for procurement and distribution of foodgrains, had around 171.70 lakh tonnes of wheat as on January 1 in the buffer stock.

The Centre had banned wheat exports in May last year to control prices, after a slight fall in the domestic production and a sharp decline in the FCI’s procurement for the central pool.

India’s wheat production fell to 106.84 million tonnes in the 2021-22 crop year (July-June) from 109.59 million tonnes in the previous year due to heat waves in a few growing states.

The procurement fell sharply to 19 million tonnes this year from around 43 million tonnes last year.

The area under coverage for wheat crop in the current rabi (winter-sown) season is slightly higher.

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