The government has reduced the permissible wheat stock for traders, wholesalers and large-scale retailers to 2,000 tonnes from 3,000 tonnes, with immediate effect. The move aims to curb the rise in prices, according to Sanjeev Chopra, Secretary of Food and Public Distribution. However, Processors can maintain the same quantity of stock as earlier.
Chopra emphasised that traders, wholesalers and large-scale retailers must comply with the revised limit by 12 October. Despite sufficient stock availability, wheat price on the National Commodity and Derivatives Exchange Limited (NCDEX) has risen by 4 per cent to Rs 2,550 per quintal in the past month. Chopra reassured that there is no potential artificial scarcity and reaffirmed that there is an abundant wheat supply in the country. The Amendment Order of 12 June, removing Licensing Requirements, Stock Limits and Movement Restrictions on Specified Foodstuffs, will remain in effect until 31 March 2024.
Presently, the nation holds 25.5 million tonnes of wheat in the central pool, surpassing the 20.2 million tonne requirement. Additionally, there is an excess of 3 million tonnes available for market intervention, along with 5.7 million tonnes already deployed for this purpose.
Chopra expressed confidence in a gradual increase in sugar and edible oil prices during the festive season, dismissing expectations of a sharp surge. Sugar prices have recently seen a modest rise due to speculation regarding crop failure and shortage. Chopra contradicted the Indian Sugar Mills Association’s projection of a significant drop in sugar stocks.
Over the last month, sugar prices increased by one per cent, reaching Rs 43.6 per kg in the retail market, and nearly one per cent to Rs 4,038 per quintal in the wholesale market. The government has recently requested data from millers regarding current sugar stocks to ensure adequate availability at reasonable prices, encompassing stocks sold to traders and wholesalers apart from sugar mills.
According to the Food Secretary, the September monsoon has followed a normal pattern, particularly in sugarcane-growing regions of Maharashtra and Karnataka, boding well for better crops and recovery in the upcoming 2023-24 sugar season. The Centre has urged all state cane commissioners in all sugar-producing states to keep a tab on crop status and update data on acreage, yield and anticipated sugar production.