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Wheat price rise normal; have enough stocks to meet demand: Govt

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The increase in in the past few weeks is “normal” on account of a low base because the rates had been “artificially depressed” last year, the Centre on Monday said.


It has ample stocks to intervene in the markets as and when required. “The rates fell last year because (FCI) pumped in seven million tonnes of wheat in the open market. Therefore, it is not advisable to compare the current year’s increase with last year’s. It should be compared with prices in 2020,” Food Secretary Sudhanshu Pandey told reporters.


He said when compared with the 2020 rates, there was an 11.42 per cent increase in wholesale at Rs 27.57 per kg and 12.01 per cent in the retail Rs 31.06 per kg as on October 14 this year.


Stating that this increase was not “astronomical”, Pandey said it was in tune with the hike in the minimum support price (MSP), and expenses on fuel and transportation, etc.


On the wheat and rice stocks in the Central pool, Chairman Ashok K K Meena said the government had a wheat stock of 22.7 million tonnes, which was higher than the buffer norm of 20.5 million tonnes, till October 1.


Similarly, the rice stock was 20.5 million tonnes, higher than the norm of 10.3 million tonnes in the period concerned.


The projected stocks of wheat and rice till April 1, 2023, would be much higher than the buffer norms even after the free grain supplies under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana, the National and other welfare requirements, he added. According to FCI, the wheat stock in Central pool on April 1 next year is expected to be 11.3 million tonnes, higher than the buffer requirement of 7.5 million tonnes.


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The rice stock during the same period is projected to be 23.7 million tonnes as against a buffer of 13.6 million tonnes.


Meena said the government was monitoring the prices of essential commodities and taking steps as required.


The government said paddy procurement had consistently increased since 2017 and had gone up to 88.2 million tonnes in 2021.


The amount paid to farmers (under MSP) has increased from Rs 90,372.42 crore to Rs 1.72 trillion in the same period.During the kharif marketing season, the projection for paddy procurement is 77.1 million tonnes and farmers are estimated to get more than Rs 1.58 trillion.


Between October 1 and 16, 5.77 million tonnes of paddy, including 3.9 million tonnes in terms of rice, has been procured, which is higher than last year.


In 2022, wheat procurement has been 18.8 million tonnes whereas requirement is 19.2 million tonnes.


With inputs from Sanjeeb Mukherjee

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