NEW DELHI: The government has reiterated that there is no shortage of wheat stock in the central pool.
In a written reply to Lok Sabha on Tuesday, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said, "As on 01.07.2022, the actual stock of wheat is 285.10 Lakh Metric Tons (LMT) against the Buffer norm of 275.80 LMT."
In reply to another question on whether it is true that wheat procurement has fallen since there was a spurt in private procurement who bought wheat directly from farmers, the minister agreed to it.
"The procurement of wheat has fallen due to higher purchase of wheat by traders as the market price of wheat had shot up due to prevailing international geopolitical situation," the Union Minister said.
"Moreover, if the farmer gets a better price in comparison to MSP, they are free to sell their produce in the open market," he added.
Wheat prices rising above MSP essentially means the Centre had to purchase lesser quantities under the price guarantee scheme as the farmers are already getting higher prices for their produce from the private buyers.
Notably, prices of wheat remain on the lower side during this time of the year as freshly harvested rabi crops make their way into the physical markets -- mandis.
This year, the conflict in Ukraine led to a spurt in the grain prices as both the countries involved in the ongoing war are major producers of wheat.
In May 2022, the Centre amended the export policy of wheat by putting its export under the "prohibited" category.
Farmers have not suffered any losses due to the ban imposed on the export of wheat, the minister had recently said.
The government had then stated that the move was made with the purpose to manage the overall food security of the country as well as meeting the needs of the neighbouring and other vulnerable countries.
After a ban on exports of wheat grain, the Centre has recently put restrictions on the exports of wheat flour (atta) exports and other related products like maida, semolina (rava / sirgi), wholemeal atta and resultant atta from July 12. It makes it mandatory for all exporters to seek prior permission from the inter-ministerial committee on wheat export before undertaking any outbound shipment.
Further, to a question on whether there is a possibility of reduction in the Kharif area under cultivation due to fluctuations in monsoon, the minister said sowing has commenced on time in major parts of the country.
The area sown under Kharif crops reported as of July 25 is 773.97 lakh hectares compared to last year's corresponding period of 768.87 lakh hectares.
On Kharif procurement, he said the target for 2022-23 has not been finalized yet.