The government on Monday said the price rise in wheat and rice has been “normal” and it will intervene in the market to offload the grains if there is any abnormal increase in the rates.
Food Secretary Sudhanshu Pandey, in a press briefing, also said the government has surplus stocks of both wheat and rice in its godowns which will be used for making market intervention.
“Price rise is not abnormal as it has been perceived and projected…,” Pandey said.
Citing the example of wheat, he said the price rise is normal as the last year’s wholesale price was depressed as the government sold huge quantities under its Open Market Sale Scheme (OMSS) to bulk consumers, he said.
The whole price of wheat was ruling at Rs 2,331 per quintal on October 14, 2021, as against Rs 2,474 per quintal on the same day in 2020, he added.
“Therefore, it is not advisable to compare the current year’s increase in wheat with last year’s. It should be compared with prices that prevailed in 2020,” Pandey explained.
When compared with 2020 rates, there is an 11.42 per cent increase in wholesale wheat prices at Rs 2,757 per quintal and 12.01 per cent in retail wheat prices at Rs 31.06 per kg as on October 14 this year.
Asserting that this price increase in wheat is not “astronomical, the Secretary said it is in tune with the increase in the minimum support price, fuel and transportation and other expenses.
He further said there is “nothing to worry” as of now as the government has a comfortable stock of both wheat and rice in its godowns as the procurement has been higher than the requirement under the PDS and other welfare schemes.
The government had a wheat stock of 227 lakh tonnes higher than the buffer norm of 205 lakh tonnes till October 1. Similarly, rice stocks were at 205 lakh tonnes, higher than 103 lakh tonnes in the said period, the Food Corporation of India (FCI) Chairman Ashok K K Meena said in the presentation.
The projected stock of wheat and rice till April 1, 2023, would be much higher than the normal buffer norms even after meeting the free grain supply under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana, National Food Security Act and other welfare requirements, he added.
Meena said the government is well aware and regularly monitoring the price scenario of essential commodities and taking corrective steps, as required.
The government has taken proactive steps to avoid any further price rise and export regulations were imposed in case of wheat from May 13 and from May 8 in case of broken rice to an immediate containment in the prices of wheat and rice.
Meena also said production of wheat in the ongoing rabi (winter) season, which started on October 1, is expected to be normal.
Procurement of kharif (summer) paddy in the current 2022-23 has commenced. A quantity of around 58 lakh tonne paddy (39 lakh tonne in terms of rice) has been procured up to October 16 which is higher than a year-ago period. It is expected that procurement of paddy is going to be normal this year, he added.
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