The government has no plans to import wheat as it has sufficient stocks to meet the country’s requirements, the Department of Food and Public Distribution said on 21 August. The Food Corporation of India (FCI) has enough stock for public distribution, it said.
“There is no such plan to import wheat into India. Country has sufficient stocks to meet our domestic requirements and @FCI_India has enough stock for public distribution,” the Department of Food and Public Distribution said in a tweet.
The comments come against the backdrop of a Bloomberg report that said India might import the foodgrain. India’s wheat production is projected to have declined nearly 3% to 106.84 million tonnes while the overall foodgrain production is estimated to have touched record 315.72 million tonnes in the 2021-22 crop year.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had boasted in the wake of the Russia-Ukraine war that when food supply to the world had been disrupted, India was in a position to feed humanity.
Wheat production is estimated to have declined due to a heatwave that resulted in shrivelled grains in the northern states of Punjab and Haryana. According to the fourth advance estimate for the 2021-22 crop year released by the agriculture ministry recently, record output is estimated for rice, maize, gram, pulses, rapeseed and mustard, oilseeds and sugarcane.
A wheat flour millers’ body earlier this month demanded that the government scrap the 40% import duty on wheat to boost domestic supplies and control prices. Members of the Roller Flour Millers’ Federation of India met Food Secretary Sudhanshu Pandey last Wednesday to discuss the issue of price rise and shortage of wheat in the market, it said in a statement. The federation’s president Anjani Agarwal has said the price of wheat has increased by Rs 300-350 per quintal in the last 15 days. The industry body has raised concerns regarding unavailability of wheat and the drastic rise in price in the last few days even though the harvest season ended just a month back and the new crop would arrive only after eight months from now. It has also demanded the release of wheat under the Open Market Sales Scheme (OMSS) through a tender process for user industries.
In May, India had banned wheat exports in a bid to check high prices amid concerns of wheat output being hit by a scorching heat wave.
In July, the government had stated that wheat stocks in FCI godowns were expected to be 134 lakh tonnes at the start of next fiscal, 80% more than the buffer norm. In a written reply in the Rajya Sabha, Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Piyush Goyal had said the central pool stock of wheat as of 1 July was well above the foodgrains stocking norms.
India had exported a record 7 million tonnes of wheat during the 2021-22 fiscal. The wholesale price-based inflation eased to a five-month low of 13.93% in July on easing prices of food articles and manufactured products. Inflation in food articles in July eased to 10.77% from 14.39% in June.