Centre steps up wheat, rice foodgrains stocks

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New Delhi, Aug 22 (UNI) Stepped-up acquisition of wheat and rice by the Centre has helped it maintain adequate availability of foodgrains, edible oils and sugar and check price rise in these commodities, an update on actions taken by the government shows.

The comfortable stock of foodgrains was reflected in the case of wheat stocks, which is expected to be higher as on April 1, 2009 at 78.60 lakh tonnes compared to the buffer norms of 40 lakh tonnes.

Similarly, it was estimated that the rice stock will be 62.43 lakh tonnes as on October 1 next against the buffer norm of 52.00 lakh tonnes.

Rice procurement during the kharif marketing season as on August 18 last showed a distinct improvement, standing at 266.80 lakh tonnes in 2007-08 against the overall procurement of 251.07 lakh tonnes in KMS 2006-2007.

With a view to keep prices of foodgrains in the open market under check and also to meet the rising demand during ensuing festivals, the government has made an ad-hoc allocation of about 96,500 tonnes of wheat under APL category during July to September 2008 to various states.

The regular release of 9 lakh MT of sugar in the open market besides, an additional 5 lakh MT Of sugar to be released in August (2 lakh MT) and September (3 lakh MT) is being closely monitored by the Department, along with release of 20 lakh MT of dismantled buffer stock by September, to ensure stipulated timely releases into the market stream to check prices. Notices to show cause are being issued to the defaulting firms for violation of Sugar (Control) Order, 1966 read with Section 3(2) of the ECA Act, 1955.

Meanwhile, a publicity-cum-awareness campaign is underway to give wide publicity to the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) so that the beneficiaries can take advantage of the allocations being made by the Central Government under the TPDS to states.

To augment edible oil stock for PDS distribution under the scheme for distribution of subsidised edible oils, out of 10 lakh tonnes of subsidised edible oils to be distributed during 2008-2009 through state governments, till August 18, 1.69 lakh tonnes of edible oil had already landed in the country and about 69,000 MTs had so far been distributed to various states by Central PSUs.

Regarding distribution of subsidised edible oils to ration cardholders, 24 states had been allocated 93,400 metric tonnes of edible oils per month for distribution to ration cardholders.

The states of Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Gujrat, Maharashtra, Orissa and Tamil Nadu had started distribution of edible oils, while Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Pondicherry were making arrangements with the PSUs to contract edible oil for distribution.

Together, these states will distribute 80 per cent to 90 per cent of the monthly allocation made to these states.

Due to proactive measures of the Government, the wholesale prices of soyabean oil, mustard oil and groundnut oil have declined by 9.02 per cent, 2.90 per cent and 3.50 per cent respectively between July 19 and August 19.

Decrease in the international prices of major edible oils such as crude palm oil and soyabean oil had declined by 28.51 per cent and 20.22 per cent respectively during this period.

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