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To curb price rise, Centre releases more grain stock under open market sale

The Centre hopes that the measure will ensure adequate domestic availability and check the prices of rice, wheat and flour.

The Centre hopes that the measure will ensure adequate domestic availability and check the prices of rice, wheat and flour. , Photo Credit: REUTERS

Concerned over the increase in foodgrains prices, the Centre on Wednesday decided to additionally sell 50 lakh metric tonnes (LMT) of wheat and 25 LMT of rice through the Open Market Sales Scheme (OMSS) from the Food Corporation of India stocks. The Centre hopes that the measure will ensure adequate domestic availability and check the prices of rice, wheat and flour.

Talking to reporters, Union Food Secretary Sanjeev Chopra said the Centre had also decided to bring down the reserve price of rice by ₹200 per quintal and the effective price will now be ₹2,900 per quintal. The cost for this reduction would be borne from the Price Stabilisation Fund under the Department of Consumer Affairs. The price of wheat has gone up by 6.77% in retail market and 7.37% in wholesale market in the last one year and in the case of rice, the increase is 10.63% and 11.12% respectively. The Centre claimed that the step will help 140 crore people of the country.

wheat import duty

When asked about the possibility to reduce wheat import duty, Mr. Chopra said the Centre would take a decision based on the requirements. “Prices of two commodities have been in the news for the past couple of months because of the rising trend that we are noticing,” Mr. Chopra said. The new limit is over and above 15 LMT of wheat and 5 LMT of rice being sold through the OMSS. About 7-8 lakh tonnes of wheat was auctioned under the OMSS so far, while rice sale was negligible, he said, adding that these measures would not only improve the availability in the market but also help cool down the prices and control food inflation. “The ultimate objective is to keep the food inflation under check,” he said.

FCI Chairman and Managing Director Ashok K Meena, who was also present at the press conference along with Union Consumer Affairs Secretary Rohit Kumar Singh, said seven e-auctions were conducted so far. “Initially, wheat offered for sale used to be 4 lakh tonnes and now, it has been reduced to 1 lakh tonne in today’s e-auction. About 8 lakh tonnes of wheat has been sold till date,” he said, adding that the weighted average selling price of wheat on June 28 was ₹2,136.36 per quintal, which had now gone up to ₹2,254.71 per quintal. “This shows there is an increase in the market demand for wheat,” he added. On buffer stocks, he said the FCI had additional 87 lakh tonnes of wheat and 217 lakh tonnes of rice available over and above the buffer norms.

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