By Sandip Das
The Food Corporation of India (FCI) has sold more than 2.37 million tonne (MT) of wheat from its stock in the open market through weekly e-auctions this fiscal so far thus curbing increase in retail prices, food ministry officials said.
On Wednesday, the corporation sold 0.19 MT of wheat, against 0.2 MT offered on the e-auction and target is to sell 5 MT of grain to the bulk buyers by end of the year.
The official said the weighted average selling price of wheat under open market sale scheme during August, 2023 was Rs 2,254.71/quintal, which has come down to Rs 2,220.17/quintal in the e-auction held on Wednesday.
Stating that the downward trend in weighted average selling price of wheat indicated cooling down of prices in open market, a food ministry note said ‘in each weekly e-auction conducted, the quantity sold has not crossed 90% of the quantity offered, which shows that sufficient stocks of wheat are being offered across the country.
Retail inflation in wheat declined to 7.93% last month from 9.3% in August because of the FCI selling surplus stock in the market to the bulk buyers.
Currently, FCI is selling 0.2 MT of wheat in the open market weekly from its stocks, which is likely to be increased to control prices.
In the beginning of the month, FCI had 24 MT of wheat against the buffer of 20.52 MT for October 1.
In August, to contain the rise in cereal prices, the government had announced the sale of 5 MT of wheat. Earlier food Secretary Sanjeev Chopra had stated that the government is considering several measures including cutting import duty on wheat.
In April 2019, India raised the duty to 40% from 30% as domestic prices had dropped, to discourage cheaper wheat imports.
Last month, the government reduced stock holding limits for wheat for traders, wholesalers and retailers to 2000 tonne from 3000 tonne, imposed three months back.
In the last couple of months, the government has announced a series of measures to check price rise including ban on the white rice exports, initiating open market sale of wheat, rice from central pool and the imposition of stock holding limits, a measure last initiated in 2008.
However, FCI could sell only 87,520 tonne of rice since July 5 in the open market through a weekly auction. Only 5000 tonne was sold to bulk buyers on Wednesday, against 0.36 MT offered for sales.
This article has been republished from The Financial Express