The news report attributed to Assocham that wheat production in the country this year is likely to be 15 million tonnes lower than estimated is factually incorrect and is aimed at forcing the government to reduce import duty on wheat, union minister of agriculture and farmer welfare Radha Mohan Singh stated today.
He said the present stock of wheat with the Food Corporation of India is higher than the stocking norms
''In 2015-16, wheat production in the country is estimated at 93.82 million tonnes as per second advance estimate. While the recent untimely rains and hailstorm in some parts of the country have caused some damage to crop, as per present assessment, production of wheat in the country would still be around 92-93 million tonne, which is substantially higher than the wheat production of 86.53 million tonnes during 2014-15''.
Singh said the present stock of wheat with the Food Corporation of India is higher than the stocking norms. Against the stocking norm of 7.6 million tonnes as on 1 April 2016, the present stock of wheat in the central pool is 13.5 million tonnes.
He said, during the last one year FCI sold 7 million tonnes of wheat through open market operations. For the past some time, the market response to the tenders floated by FCI had been weak, implying that there is no shortage of wheat in the country at present.
The minister pointed out that during the last one year international prices of wheat had been subdued and it was in order to protect the interests of farmers that the government imposed 25 per cent import duty on wheat.
He further said that the harvesting of wheat has started. With a target of 30.5 million tonne, FCI has already started procurement activity.
Singh said that at this juncture, such incorrect information is being publicised with a view to compel the government to reduce import duty on wheat. Lower import duty on wheat would lead to a fall in wheat prices in the domestic market and farmers would incur heavy losses as traders profit from purchases at lower price.
He said the government was keeping a close watch on prices, particularly prices of food items and will make all efforts to keep food prices under control.