The Roller Flour Millers Federation has estimated the country’s wheat production at 105.79 million tonnes (mt) for 2023-24, lower than the government estimate of 112.02 mt. But, the government is confident of procuring 31-32 mt this year from farmers to meet the obligation under food security law as well as to continue the other welfare schemes.

Addressing the millers, Food Corporation of India (FCI) Chairman and Managing Director Ashok Meena said the Centre could buy 31 mt to 32 mt of wheat from farmers, higher than 26.2 mt bought in 2023, and it will be more than sufficient to meet the official demand as well as adequate quantity for the open market intervention.

Meena said the Centre’s wheat procurement has already crossed 1 mt until April 7, as against 0.7 mt in the year-ago period.

Big gains in UP, MP?

Releasing the crop production estimate, commissioned by the industry body, Navneet Chitlangia, Senior Cice-President of the Federation, said wheat production may be around 105 mt this year as assessed by the members.

According to the report, barring Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra, all other States will have higher production of wheat than previous year. Farmers in Uttar Pradesh, the biggest producer, may harvest 32.25 mt this year against 30.79 mt in 2023 while Madhya Pradesh may see the output rising to 24.99 mt from 24.54 mt.

Punjab may record a harvest of 15.40 mt against 14.88 mt last year while Haryana is likely to see the output growing to 10.38 mt from 9.97 mt and Bihar to 5.85 mt from 5.56 mt.

‘Mull import options’

On the other hand, wheat production in Rajasthan is set to decline to 8.85 mt from 9.15 mt and in Gujarat to 3.13 mt from 3.32 mt. Maharashtra’s wheat production has been estimated at 1.64 mt, down from 1.83 mt in 2023.

Addressing the event, the federation’s president S Pramod Kumar urged the Centre to “evaluate all available options, including imports, to bolster the buffer stock” of wheat. He urged the Centre to set up a Wheat Promotion Board.

He said millers are hesitant to stock wheat during harvest season as they are put to unnecessary losses when the government releases wheat at MSP during the later part of the year. “In the long run, this lack of confidence in free market operation may not augur well for the trade and farmers,” Kumar said. He requested the government to establish a price structure for wheat issued under open market sale scheme that enhances availability without hindering the free trade.