Foodgrain stocks fall marginally to under 60 mt, but no respite from storage crunch

Written by Sandip Das | New Delhi | Updated: Apr 12 2013, 08:57am hrs
The country's foodgrain stocks, mostly consisting wheat and rice, have declined marginally to less than 60 million tonne (mt) for the first time in many months.

The stocks are expected to rise sharply during the next few weeks as the wheat procurement drive by the Food Corporation of India (FCI) gathers pace.

As per the latest data, foodgrain stocks have been reported at more than 59 million tonne at the start of April. FCI has wheat and rice stocks of more than 24 mt and 35 mt, respectively, against strategic reserve and buffer stock norms of only 21 mt.

We are holding foodgrain stocks three times the requirement, leading to a huge storage crunch, a food ministry official told FE.

On March 1, total foodgrain stocks with FCI were reported at more than 62 mt.

The official wheat procurement drive for the current season started on April 1. The government has set a record target of 44 mt of wheat purchase for the current year (2013-14) against last year's purchase of close to 39 mt. Till Thursday, FCI and state government agencies have purchased more than 2 mt of wheat from farmers, mostly in Madhya Pradesh. In Punjab and Haryan, wheat purchase is expected to commence by next week as harvesting had been delayed because of recent rains.

Official sources said that because of the huge volumes of procurement during the last couple of years, more than 10 million tonne of grains (mostly rice and wheat) would have to be kept in the cover and plinth (CAP) facilities of the FCI, where grains cannot be stored for long periods.

The government is anticipating wheat stocks of 57 mt at the start of June this year, following a record purchase from the farmers during 2013-14. Sources said the government agencies had been hiring rented places to store foodgrains for dealing with the huge storage crunch.These agencies have a total storage capacity of about 61 million tonne. This includes 18 mt of CAP capacity. In June last year, foodgrain stocks had reached their peak at 81 mt.