The government has said that the decision to restrict wheat exports will control food prices, strengthen the food security of India and countries facing a deficit, and that India remains a reliable supplier as it is honouring all contracts.
Speaking at a press conference with Shri Sudhanshu Pandey, Secretary Department of Food and Consumer Affairs, and Shri Manoj Ahuja, Secretary Agriculture, the Commerce Secretary said that all exports orders where the letter of credit has been issued would be fulfilled. He added that directing the wheat exports through government channels would not only ensure fulfilling the genuine needs of our neighbours and food-deficit countries but also control 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,” he said.
He said that the control order serves three main purposes: “It maintains the food security for the country, it helps others who are in distress, and maintains India’s reliability as a supplier,” he said.
He said that in the government’s order on exports was giving a clear direction to the wheat market. “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 country has adequate food stocks.
He added that after consulting with the states, the Centre has reallocated some quantities by changing ratios of wheat and rice. For example, states getting wheat and rice in the ratio of 60:40 will get it in the ratio of 40:60. Similarly, the ratio of 75:25 is made 60:40. 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.
As a result of the reallocation, “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,” he added.
Shri Manoj Ahuja, Agriculture Secretary said heat waves had affected 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