PM reviews India’s wheat supply situation amid reports of output decline

Prime Minister Narendra Modi  chaired a meeting of concerned officials for reviewing various aspects of wheat supply, stock and exports. The meeting gains significance as state of Punjab has been reporting sharp fall in wheat production output this season.

The ministry of food has sent a second team to Punjab to assess the extent of the problem of shrivelled wheat grain currently being procured by government agencies from farmers. The heat wave in March when wheat ripens is responsible for the shriveling of crops

The ministry had also sent a team to the state last month to study the extent of shrivelled grain. The team, had in its report, stated that extreme heat in March and early April has increased shrivelled grain percentage to 10-20% in the state, as against 6% prescribed by the Food Corporation of India (FCI).

Last week, the state government of Punjab announced gradual closure of mandis because of a dip in wheat arrival.

Prime Minister Modi asked concern officials to ensure quality norms for exports of foodgrains and other agricultural products from the country. “In the light of increasing demand for agricultural products of India, the Prime Minister directed that all steps be taken to ensure quality norms and standards so that India evolves into an assured source of food grain and other agricultural products,” an official statement said.

Last month, the Punjab government urged the Centre to relax the quality norms for wheat procurement as a higher than prescribed level of shrivelled grains in the state’s current crop has led to a fall in purchases.

The government has revised the estimate of wheat production in the 2021-22 crop year (July-June) to 105 million tonnes (MT), down from its February projection of 111.32 MT, based on reports that the early onset of summer in March has adversely impacted crop yield. India is aiming at exporting 10 MT of wheat in 2022-23. However, with the domestic prices of wheat ruling above MSP, the government is likely to take measures to restrict exports soon.

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