States including Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat on Tuesday demanded restoration of wheat supply under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) and Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) by stating that beneficiaries need both rice and wheat as per their food preferences.
According to officials from Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat, the beneficiaries under public distribution system in the states were allocated wheat and rice in proportion of 3 kg (wheat) and 2 kg (rice) for each beneficiary per month till May. After which the government had reversed it to 2 kg (wheat) and 3 kg (rice) mainly because of decline in wheat stocks because of lowest procurement by Food Corporation of India (FCI) in the last 12 years.
“We have urged the Centre to allocate wheat according to an earlier ratio as beneficiaries under NFSA and PMGKAY in many regions prefer wheat over rice,” a senior government official from Uttar Pradesh said on the sidelines of ‘conference of food ministers of states and union territories on food and nutrition security’.
However, the food ministry is unlikely to accept the request from the states for allocation of more wheat than rice as FCI is expected to have smaller surplus of wheat (around 1 million tonne) and around 6.8 MT of rice by October after meeting the buffer norms.
In May, following a record drop in wheat procurement in the current marketing season (2022-23) by more than 56.6% to only 18.78 million tonnes compared to previous year, the government had announced a cut in the wheat allocation of 10 states under NFSA, 2013. However, these states have been allocated an additional quantity of rice that is equal to the cut in their wheat allocation.
For instance, those states getting wheat and rice in the ratio of 60:40, were allocated foodgrain in the ratio of 40:60 and states who used to receive grain in the 75:25 ratio of wheat and rice has been made 60:40, a food ministry official had stated.
Similarly, those states, especially Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan, where there was no rice allocation, wheat allocation was not changed. For all the smaller states, northeastern and special category states, allocation pattern or ratio was not changed.
“To ensure management of foodgrain stocks as per norms, to position rice stock for distribution of fortified rice, ease the pressure on the logistics and after due consultations, it has been decided to revise the NFSA allocation of rice and wheat under NFSA in 10 states/UTs — Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha, West Bengal, Delhi, UP, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Tamil Nadu,” an official statement in May had stated.