Takenn by surprise at the 42 per cent offtake in the first round of e-auction of wheat from official stock, the government has decided to postpone the next round of sales by a week. The second round of sale through e-auction will now be held on February 15, the Food Ministry said.

Also, the Food Corporation of India (FCI) on Friday night directed all its zonal offices and depots to postpone the uploading of tender notification scheduled for February 3 to February 10, besides changing the the e-auction date.

FCI has further directed all depot managers to ensure that all the winning bidders of first round of e-auction remit the cost and lift stocks immediately within the prescribed time period.

Addressing media on January 27, FCI Chairman and Managing Director Ashok K Meena had said that the agency was expecting to exhaust the 25 lt quota for e-auction by March 15, the last day of auction, by when new crop will start arriving in mandis. He had said that the lifting might not be much as seen in the past sales and also due to the e-auction happening on a weekly basis.

Out of 2.74 lt offered for sales in Punjab, traders and millers have been awarded 2.56 lt, which is 94 per cent, for which FCI will receive over ₹604 crore, with an average realisation of ₹2,358/quintal.

In the first round, over 1,150 bidders had participated and a total of 9.2 lakh tonne (lt) of wheat was sold across the country. Weighted average rate of ₹2,474/quintal was realised by FCI in the auction for which the agency would receive ₹2,290 crore, the Ministry said.

The reserve prices have been fixed at ₹2,300/quintal for Under Relaxed Specifications (URS) category and ₹2,350/quintal for the fair average quality (FAQ) category, ex-Ludhiana and ex-Bhopal. Freight charges to the depot from the main two locations are added extra in the reserve price fixed for each depot.

In the first round of e-auction, maximum demand was generated by the 100-499 tonnes category, followed by 500-1,000 tonnes and 50-100 tonnes. Only 27 bids were received for the 3,000 tonne, which is the maximum limit fixed for each bidder to buy in any round.

“We have directed all the winning bidders of first e-auction to make the wheat available in respective markets in order to further contain the prices. The prices are set to fall further after the wheat sold in the e-auction is lifted and atta is made available in the market,” a government official said.

Sale of wheat through e-auction will continue throughout the country on every Wednesday till the second week of March or until the stock gets exhausted, whichever is earlier, the official said.

The Ministry has also said that from the 3 lt of wheat allocated to cooperatives for sale without e-auction at the concessional rate of ₹2,350/quintal for converting the wheat to atta and offering it to the public at an MRP of ₹29.50 per kg, NCCF has been allocated 50,000 tonnes in 7 States. NAFED and Kendriya Bhandar have got 1 lt.

Kendriya Bhandar, a retail cooperative chain of the Centre, has started selling atta at ₹29.50/kg, while others are expected to commence sales very soon.