Rice and wheat stock in the Central Pool, managed by the Food Corporation of India (FCI), is at a five-year low, mainly due to lower procurement of wheat. Rice stock, though above 2020 level, may deplete fast in case there is a drop in production during current kharif season as paddy transplanting has dropped 12 per cent until last week.

According to latest data, the rice and wheat stock as on August 1 was 545.97 lakh tonnes (lt), whereas the previous low was 499.77 lt in 2017. In case of rice, the stock was 279.52 lt and the previous low was 253.40 lt in 2020. The current stock of rice is 11.5 lt lower than year-ago. The wheat stock as on August 1 was 266.45 lt while the previous low was 243.80 lt in 2008.

Related Stories
Rice exports: Buyers resist price hike despite fears of weather affecting crop
Global prices head south as freight market softens; domestic rates rise

The unmilled paddy stock was at 194.57 lt and in 2020 it was at 145.63 lt, as on August 1, data shows.

“Wheat stock is low that is known as procurement dropped. But the government has already reallocated rice in place of certain quantity of wheat to some states from the Central Pool which has increased the normal demand of rice from last year,” said an expert requesting anonymity. In case of a lower crop of paddy, there will be pressure on government to meet the procurement target as private traders will be active as seen in case of wheat in April-May, he said.

Panel closely watching

An inter-ministerial group is believed to have took stock of the situation on rice and it has been decided to wait for some more time before taking any extreme step of prohibiting export of non-basmati rice, sources said. The panel is closely monitoring the rice prices, government sources said.

Until August 12, the progressive transplanting of paddy was at 309.79 lakh hectares (lh), down by 12.4 per cent from 353.620 lh year-ago. A little over half of the targeted area of 42 lh has been covered in West Bengal, the largest rice producer while in Jharkhand only one-fifth of the targeted 18 lh got sown this time due to lack of rainfall.

“Bihar and Uttar Pradesh may end up a little lower from last year’s acreage, but the overall crop output in these two States will fall below last Kharif due to deficient rainfall and delayed transplanting,” an official said.

The government has procured 59.13 million tonnes (mt) of rice as of August 15 during the procurement season (October-September) due to record production of 129.66 mt in 2021-22 crop year (July-June) – 111.04 mt in kharif and 18.62 mt in rabi. In 2020-21, rice procurement was 60.25 mt.