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Business News/ News / Govt mandates weekly wheat stock reporting to curb hoarding
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Govt mandates weekly wheat stock reporting to curb hoarding

Traders, wholesalers, retailers, large chain stores, and food processors are required to declare their wheat stock on the government portal every Friday

 The current wheat stockholding limit expires on 31 March. (Representative Photo) (HT_PRINT)Premium
The current wheat stockholding limit expires on 31 March. (Representative Photo) (HT_PRINT)

New Delhi: The government has asked traders, wholesalers, retailers, large chain stores, and food processors to report their wheat stocks every Friday.

This measure is aimed at ensuring food security, and curbing hoarding, and speculative activities that could harm market stability. 

These entities are required to declare their wheat stock on the government portal every Friday, starting April, according to an official announcement. The current wheat stockholding limit expires on 31 March.

The decision also comes against the backdrop of central wheat stocks being at their lowest in 16 years. As of 27 March, wheat inventories held by the Food Corp of India (FCI), which maintains the government's granaries, dropped to 7.71 million tonnes (mt). The last time wheat stocks were below this level was in 2008 when it had dipped to 5.8 mt.

The FCI aims to procure 34.15 million tonnes in the 2024-25 rabi marketing season (April-September). In the previous season, the government bought 26.2 million tonne of the grain from local farmers.

An existing mandate already requires all relevant entities to declare their rice stocks to regulate grain prices and ensure availability.

In December, the government revised the wheat stockholding limits for retailers and large chain stores, emphasizing a reduction to manage supplies more effectively.

For retailers, the revised limit for each outlet was cut from 10 tonne to 5 tonne. Big chain retailers were allowed to stock 5 tonne for each of their outlets and 1,000 tonne at all their depots. Earlier, it was 10 tonnes and 2,000 tonnes, respectively.

The government had stated that if entities possess stock levels exceeding the designated limit, they must reduce their stocks to comply with the specified limits within 30 days from when the notification was issued.

Last month, the consumer affairs ministry took steps to further restrict wheat stock limits for traders, wholesalers, and processors. For traders and wholesalers, the limit was revised from 1,000 tonne to 500 tonne. For processors, from 5 tonnes for each outlet and 1,000 tonnes at all their depots, it had been revised to 5 tonnes and 500 tonnes , respectively.

The latest move comes amid an accelerating food inflation. India, the world's second-biggest wheat consumer after China, has faced challenges in managing wheat prices following reduced harvests due to consecutive years of heatwaves. The government's efforts include selling substantial quantities of wheat to maintain adequate domestic supplies.

The data released by the National Statistical Office this month showed that although the consumer price index-based inflation rate eased slightly to 5.09% in February, food inflation remained elevated. Wheat and rice prices in February rose to 2% and 12.8% against 2.3% and 12.9% a month ago.

As of Friday, the all-India average price of rice was 44.05 a kg, 12.75% higher than the previous year. Prices of atta were at 36.23 a kg, up nearly 5%, according to the consumer affairs department.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Puja Das
Puja Das is a New Delhi based reporter, covering food, farm, fertiliser, water, and climate change policies for Mint. Puja reports on food security, farmers' distress and how the agriculture sector is impacting India's rural economy along with policy initiatives to help meet the pledges made at COP21 in Paris. Puja holds a post-graduation degree in Broadcast Journalism from the Indian Institute of Journalism & New Media, Bangalore.
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Published: 29 Mar 2024, 05:42 PM IST
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