FCI seeks immediate nod to shift 8-10 lakh tonne wheat to warehouses

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As much as 50 lakh tonne of wheat lying in open in Punjab due to warehouse shortage could soon perish unless evacuated to warehouses in other states. Sensing the urgency, Food Corporation of India (FCI) is believed to have sought an immediate in-principle approval from the food ministry to shift 8-10 lakh tonne of wheat to warehouses in states like Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Madhya Pradesh. Till then, wheat stocks have been kept in open, though covered under plastic sheets. This year, 60 lakh tonne of wheat was kept in open under covered and plinth (CAP) storage after the procurement. Out of this, only 10 lakh tonne has been evacuated, He said FCI has been informed about the situation and the conditions of the grain. Since, Punjab consumes less than 10 lakh tonne of wheat annually whereas farmers sell almost their entire produce to the Central Pool (about 127 lakh tonne in 2018-19), FCI used to shift those surplus grains to major consuming states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar under the public distribution system. However, due to a record procurement of 50.87 lakh tonne in Uttar Pradesh in 2018, FCI could not shift the wheat from Punjab immediately. The state requires about 55 lakh tonne of wheat annually under the National Food Security Act. The Centre has allocated 18.66 lakh tonne of wheat to Uttar Pradesh during April-July, There has been a policy decision on the grain movement under the central pool stocks and it allows transportation to the consuming centres from the producing regions only once to avoid duplication in transport costs, officials said. Since this time, the wheat has to be kept in some warehouses urgently, the Centre has identified these three states The wheat production in 2017-18 crop year (July-June) has now been revised to 99.7 million tonne. The total procurement of wheat by FCI also increased to 35.51 million tonne this year from 30.83 million tonne in 2017. The Centre has already allowed FCI to sell up to 10 million tonne of wheat from its stock in the open market through tender. Under the open market sale scheme (OMSS), the Centre has fixed the wheat prices at Rs 1,900 per quintal (for July-September), which is Rs 110 per quintal higher than the last year. The OMSS prices are Rs 1,925 and Rs 1,950 per quintal for October-December and January-March periods, respectively. Though FCI was allowed to sell 5.4 million tonnes of wheat under the OMSS, traders and flour millers lifted only 1.5 million tonne.