CCEA could discuss 2mn tonne wheat export proposal this week
Mumbai: Food Minister K V Thomas Monday said the proposal to export two million tonnes of wheat from the central pool could be discussed in the forthcoming CCEA meeting.
When asked if the proposal on wheat exports will be taken up in the coming Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) meeting, Thomas said, "Most probably. However, we are not in haste to export the foodgrain as our first priority is distribution within the country".
Thomas was speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a national seminar on "Food Safety - Role of Standards".
Currently, the government is grappling with the problem of plenty as its godowns are overflowing with a record 82 million tonnes of rice and wheat, against the storing capacity of only 64 million tonnes.
According to sources, the Food Ministry has already moved a CCEA note on export of two million tonnes of wheat from the government stocks. The proposal is in line with the recommendation made by the PMEAC Chairman C Rangarajan.
The ministry has suggested wheat exports through PSUs with floor price of USD 228 per tonne, they said.
Sources, however, said the Finance Ministry has opposed the move as subsidy on 2 million tonnes of wheat exports is estimated at Rs 1,500 crore.
India, the world's second biggest wheat grower, is also in talks with sanction-hit Iran on wheat exports. At present, the two countries are addressing the quality hurdles.
On the recent visit by the Iranian delegation, Thomas said: "Iran wants wheat but they want to import pest free foodgrain. They went back after visiting Punjab, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh. We are waiting for further communication from them in this regard".
To clear surplus stocks, the government recently decided to offload 5 million tonnes of extra foodgrains at subsidised rates to BPL families and 3 million tonnes of wheat to bulk consumers.
The country's storage crisis has aggravated in the recent years due to record procurement and production of rice and wheat. In the 2011-12 crop year (July-June), wheat production is expected to be a bumper 90.23 million tonnes.