M A I N   N E W S

Centre may import wheat
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 17
The government could consider importing wheat as the stocks of wheat in the Central pool has come down with the procurement in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar being less than the expected limited.

The government is upset over the low purchase of wheat by official agencies, particularly from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, which brought down the overall procurement by 24.2 per cent to 14.8 metric tonnes t on June 1.

The procurement is down by around 3 metric tonnes as against the government’s target of 18 metric tonnes.

The dwindling foodgrain stocks and high wheat prices are now the major worries of the government. The Agriculture Ministry has started considering wheat imports to meet the requirements of various welfare schemes, if there was a shortfall.

India has been net exporter of wheat for past two years and liquidated its accumulated inventory by selling off the stocks at highly subsidised rates — around 50 per cent of the economic cost.

Uttar Pradesh produced around 25 metric tonnes during the current rabi season-the largest output in the country, but government procurement in the state barely 7 lakh tonnes, according to Union Agriculture Secretary Radha Singh.

Unlike Punjab and Haryana, foodgrain procurement in Uttar Pradesh is decentralised and the state government agencies procure rice and wheat from the farmers.

“But, this does not mean that Food Corporation of India — the nodal agency for purchasing foodgrains for the Central pool — cannot procure wheat in UP,” Ms Radha Singh said.

She maintained that wheat production during the current season was only one million tonne less than last year, but procurement came down because the government agencies did not make requisite procurement from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

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