Pawar hints at open market sale of wheat, rice to state governments

The centre would not hesitate to undertake market intervention and release of wheat and rice under open market sale to state governments, food and agriculture minister Sharad Pawar said today.

Addressing state ministers for food and civil supplies and sugar in New Delhi, he asked the states to gear up and put in place appropriate mechanism to sell wheat and rice to consumers and ensure that these releases check inflationary trends in the food economy.

State governments, however, have failed to utilise the 9.09 lakh tonnes of wheat allocated under the open market sale scheme and have lifted only 0.74 lakh tonnes of wheat so far, he pointed out.

While almost all the state governments have been seeking additional allocation of foodgrains to meet the situation arising out of deficient rainfall, most of them have conveyed that they do not require any foodgrains under the open market sale scheme. 

"Almost all the state governments have been requesting for additional allocation of foodgrains to meet the situation arising out of deficient rainfall. It is, however, a matter of concern that when we requested state governments to indicate their requirement of wheat under open market sale scheme, only the state governments of Delhi, Jharkhand, Jammu & Kashmir, Lakswadeep and Andaman & Nicobar have responded while all other state governments have conveyed that they do not require any foodgrain under OMSS for public distribution.

"The central government proposes to allocate wheat to state governments at `Minimum Support Prices plus railway freight'. The same principle is being adopted in case of rice where MSP-derived price and equated freight will be the cost at which rice will be provided to the state governments," Pawar said.