Union Agriculture Radha Mohan Singh on Saturday asserted that present stock of wheat with the Food Corporation of India is higher than stocking norms and incorrect information is being publicised by some business chambers to compel the government to reduce import duty on the grain.
"Today's news report of ASSOCHAM stating that wheat production in the country this year is likely to be lower by 1. 5 crore tonnes is factually incorrect. In 2015 - 16, wheat production in the country is estimated at 93. 82 million tonnes and recent untimely rains and hailstorm in some parts of the country have caused some damage but, as per present assessment, production of wheat in the country would still be around 92 - 93 million tonne which is substantially higher than the wheat production of 86. 53 million tonnes during 2014 - 15, " he said, as per a ministry statement.
"The present stock of wheat with the Food Corporation of India is higher than the stocking norms. Against the stocking norm of 7. 6 million tonnes as on 1st April, 2016, the present stock of wheat in the central pool is 13. 5 million tonnes, " he said, adding that FCI has sold 7 million tonnes of wheat through open market operations in last one year.
He also noted that in the last one year, global prices of wheat have also been subdued.
"In order to protect the interests of farmers, central government imposed 25 percent import duty on wheat, " he said, contending that at this juncture, "such incorrect information is being publicised with a view to compel government to reduce import duty on wheat".
"Lower import duty on wheat would lead to a fall in wheat price in the domestic market and farmers will incur heavy loss while traders will purchase from farmers at lowered price, " Singh said, adding that government is keeping a close watch on prices, particularly of food items and will make all efforts to keep them under control.