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Wheat stocks at 15 years low raise concerns

The reliable sources reported that in the beginning of the month last, the wheat stocks in the central pool held by the Food Corporation of India (FCI) and state agencies reached 30.09 million tonne (mt), the lowest level since 2008, indicating another rise in wheat prices.
However, the food ministry officials assured that grain stock would be sufficient to bring them to the open market sales if wheat prices go up in the coming months. They also assured the stocks may still sufficient to meet the requirement wheat under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyana Anna Yojana (PMGKAY).
The current wheat stocks at 30.09 mt are above the buffer of 27.58 mt for July 1 this year. The wheat stocks on June 1, 2008, were only 24.12 mt. At present, the government needs 18.4 mt of grain annually, for social welfare schemes, including the free ration scheme, the PMGKAY
In the FY 2023-24, the FCI had sold a record 10 mt of wheat to bulk buyers to tame prices.
According to the officials, while the government is keeping a close watch on market prices of wheat, it has procured around 27 mt in the 2024-25 marketing season (April-June), against a target of 30-31 mt at the beginning of the season. Till June 1, the wheat procurement by the agencies had crossed 26.5 mt against 26.19 mt in the 2023-24 season and the procurement operations were still on in Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.
The government has projected a wheat output of a record 112 mt in 2023-24 crop year (July-June).
As far the rice stocks at the central pool as on June 1, it was 31.98 mt. At present, the FCI has 50.08 mt, including 18.12 mt of grain receivable from millers, meaning 4 times above the buffer of 13.54 mt for July 1.
The sources said that the government is working means to dispose the surplus rice so that storage space could be created for the next paddy procurement season 2024-25 (October-September).
The officials said, government assessing the sowing of kharif paddy, expected to commence this month, before the government’s action regarding the curbs on export of rice. “We need to look at lifting restrictions on rice exports as kharif crop prospects look bright,” the official said.
Notably, the government last year, had initially banned white rice exports and subsequently imposed 20 percent shipment duty on parboiled rice to improve domestic supplies.
However, the India Meteorological Department (IMD), in its second advance long range forecast, reiterated its earlier forecast of ‘above normal’ monsoon rainfall at 106 percent of the benchmark average during June-September this year. The forecast expected to give a boost to kharif crops sowing. Paddy, pulses, sugarcane and oilseeds are the major kharif crops in the country.