Relying on increased minimum support price (MSP) and ‘normal’ production of wheat in the current rabi season, the government has expressed hope that it would be able to buy a sufficient quantity of the grain next year, which will help it to augment the stock in the Central Pool.

The government has enhanced the MSP of wheat crop this year to ₹2,125/quintal from ₹2,015 last year. With the ₹110/quintal increase coupled with fairly good climatic conditions, the Food Ministry hoped that “it is expected that the production and procurement of wheat during next season (April-March) shall remain normal.”

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“Procurement of wheat next season would commence from April 2023 and as per initial assessment there has been a fair increase in the sowing of the crop as compared to last year,” the Ministry said in its statement.

According to Agriculture Ministry data, wheat sowing has been completed in 255.76 lakh hectares (lh) as of December 9, up by 25.4 per cent from 203.91 lh year ago. However, more clarity will be available Friday with the weekly update since the year-ago sowing data in Uttar Pradesh was the same at 55.82 lh for the past two weeks, leading to a wide gap with current coverage.

Enough stock

The food ministry also said that enough stock of wheat would still be available in Central Pool to cater to the country’s needs till the time the next crop arrives, even though procurement in the last season was on the lower side due to lesser production.

“The government has sufficient food grain stocks under Central Pool to meet the requirement of National Food Security Act (NFSA) and Other Welfare Schemes (OWS) as well as for the additional allocation of PMGKAY,” the ministry said Thursday. However, there was no mention about open market sale scheme (OMSS).

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About 15.9 million tonnes (mt) of wheat will be available as on January 1, 2023, which is well above the buffer norm requirement of 13.8 mt whereas the stock was at 18.2 mt until December 12, it said.

Stressing that it is well aware of the price scenario of wheat, the government said it constantly monitors on weekly basis along with other commodities and has been taking corrective measures, as and when required.

Wheat procurement dipped to a 15-year low of 18.79 mt in the 2022-23 rabi marketing season (April-March) while the agriculture ministry estimated the production to have declined to 106.84 mt in the 2021-22 crop year (July-June) from 109.59 mt in the previous year.

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