Govts grain stock set to hit all-time high

Written by Sandip Das | New Delhi | Updated: Jan 23 2013, 08:40am hrs
Following a bumper rabi wheat crop, foodgrain stock with the government will likely touch an all-time high of 90 million tonne by June, officials said.

Given the huge volume of procurement during the last couple of years, 10 million tonne of grains (mostly rice and wheat) would have to be kept in cover and plinth (CAP) facilities of the Food Corporation of India (FCI), where it cannot be stored for longer periods, officials added.

The government estimates a wheat stock of 57 million tonne at the start of June 2013 following FCIs massive procurement drive scheduled to start from April 1. Rice stocks are expected at around 33 million tonne. As per the strategic reserves and buffer stock norm, the government should have a foodgrain stock of around 32 million tonne on July 1.

Official sources said 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 82 million tonne. This year, too, FCI is expected to face a huge storage crunch in the coming few months, an official said.

A government official said that a huge foodgrain stock will not only keep prices low, but also help implement the proposed National Food Security legislation.

Meanwhile, the food ministry has set a target of procuring close to 40 million tonne of wheat for the season 2013-14, which starts from April 1. Last year, government agencies had procured 39 million tonne of wheat from farmers.

The biggest jump in wheat procurement is expected from Madhya Pradesh this year, as the state government has set a procurement target of 11.5 million tonne against 8.4 mt in the previous year. This is an increase of close to 37%.

Punjab and Haryana are expected to contribute 14 million tonne and 8.7 million tonne, respectively, to the procurement drive in the next season. Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan are set to contribute 5 million tonne and 2.5 million tonne, respectively.

Around 5 million tonne of grains are distributed every month in different states under the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS), allocation to armed forces and social sector schemes, besides keeping sufficient stocks.

Mainly due to the bumper grain output of the last few years, the government has been keeping more stock than required under the strategic reserves and buffer stock norms.