Govt mulls offloading 1.5-2 mn tonnes of wheat from FCI to contain prices

The government is considering releasing 15-20 lakh tonnes of wheat next year from the FCI stock for bulk consumers like flour millers, under the Open Market Sale Scheme (OMSS) to contain rising retail prices, according of official sources.

According to the data maintained by the consumer affairs ministry, the average retail price of wheat was at Rs 32.25 per kg on December 27, higher than Rs 28.53 per kg in the year-ago period. Wheat flour (atta) price too remained higher at Rs 37.25 per kg than Rs 31.74 per kg a year ago.

Under the OMSS policy, the government allows state-run Food Corporation of India (FCI) to sell foodgrains, especially wheat and rice, at pre-determined prices in the open market from time to time to bulk consumers and private traders. The purpose is to boost the supply during the lean season and moderate the general open market prices.

An official source said, “The nodal Food Ministry has moved an OMSS policy for 2023 for wheat and the plan is to release 15-20 lakh tonnes from the FCI for bulk users under the OMSS.”

Wheat grown in the last two crops will be issued from the FCI stock and the rate has not yet been decided, the source said.

Another source said there is a possibility of releasing wheat under the OMSS as the government is comfortable with the foodgrains’ stock position. Moreover, the new wheat crop prospect is seen to be bright as total acreage has been higher so far.

Even the flour millers have demanded the government offload wheat stocks from the FCI godowns to meet the shortage in the open market which has pushed up both wholesale and retail prices of wheat and wheat flour.

As of December 15, around 180 lakh tonnes of wheat and 111 lakh tonnes of rice were available in the central pool.

The supply shortage is mainly due to a fall in domestic wheat production to 106.84 million tonnes in the 2021-22 crop year (July-June) from 109.59 million tonnes in the previous year due to heatwaves in a few growing states.

The procurement of new wheat crop would commence from April 2023.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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