New Delhi :The government has said that the decision to restrict wheat export has been taken to curb inflationary expectations due to speculation and that India remains a reliable supplier. Speaking at a press conference with Sudhashu Pandy, Secretary Department of Food and Consumer Affairs, and Shri Manoj Ahuja, Secretary Agriculture, the Commerce Secretary said that all the exports orders where the letter of credit has been issued would be fulfilling. He added that directing the wheat exports through government channels would not only ensure fulfilling the genuine needs of our neighbours and the food deficit countries but also anchor inflationary expectations.
Talking about the availability of wheat, Shri Subrahmanyam said, “Apart from the food security of India, the Government is committed to ensuring food security of neighbours and vulnerable countries. Of the export of 7MT last year, almost half of it went to one neighbouring country alone which is Bangladesh,” he said adding on, “India’s credibility is as a trading nation. We could have actually imposed the ban (wheat) overnight. The figure which is shown as 4.2-4.3 MT is what has been contracted as surprise from India, this is our estimate of which about 1.2 MT has gone in April. In May we are expecting to ship 1.1 MT l, may be half of it is gone already.”
He said that the control order serves three main purposes, “Maintains the food security for the country, it helps others who are in distress and maintains India’s reliability as a supplier.”
He said that in the name of prohibition (control order), we are directing the wheat trading to a certain direction. “We do not want wheat to go in an unregulated manner in places where it might just get either hoarded or it may not serve the purpose of serving the food requirements of vulnerable nations. That’s why government to government window has been kept opened,” he said.
Shri Sudhanshu Pandey, Secretary Department of Food and Public Distribution said that the government has boosted the availability of Wheat by reallocation to States. Talking about the availability of Wheat, he said, “This year our opening stock of wheat was 190 LMT which was little less than last year’s opening balance of 273 LMT. The last year year’s procurement was 433 LMT whereas in Rabi procurement, this year’s estimated procurement is about 440 LMT. The extra procurement so far is around 180 LMT.”
“Adding up the stocks, against the stock of 706 LMT of last year, this year the stocks would be 375 LMT and that’s why after consulting with the states, we have only reallocated some quantities by changing ratios of wheat and rice. For example, States getting wheat and raise in the ratio 60:40 has been made 40:60. Similarly, the ratio of 75:25 is made 60:40. States where rice allocation was not there, we have continued to provide wheat. Where rice allocation was zero, they will continue to get wheat. For all small states-NE states and special category states, allocation has not been changed,” he said adding on, “With this, we have boosted the availability of wheat to about 110-111 LMT more. Adding it to 185 LMT, it become 296 LMT which is almost as last year’s.”
Shri Manoj Ahuja, Agriculture Secretary informed that heat waves particularly, posed damage to wheat crops especially in North-Western India this year, but the difference is in availability compared to last year is marginal.
“Last year the production figures of wheat were 109 LMT for the country. This year in February, we have come out with advanced estimates for this year’s production and we have estimated 111 LMT. Our estimates shows 105-106 LMT of wheat availability this year and we are quite same in terms of quantity and availability as last year,” he added.