New Delhi: Amid poor response from private traders for wheat export bids, Food Minister K V Thomas on Tuesday said the government may consider reducing the benchmark price of the grain to make exports viable and clear surplus stocks.
Last month, the Centre had allowed an extra 5 million tonnes of wheat exports from its godowns in Punjab and Haryana through private traders. The Food Corporation of India (FCI) has invited two bids at a floor price of Rs 1,484 per quintal.
"There was no participation in the first tender because of higher floor price... We will move a proposal in a week's time before the Group of Ministers (GoM) to consider reduction in the price," Thomas told the agency.
The GoM, headed by Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, may also extend the deadline for export of wheat beyond June 30, he said.
Asked if the government would allow more wheat exports from its godowns, Thomas said, "We have more wheat stocks than required and an additional exports may be allowed after the shipment of the existing 5 million tonnes is completed."
As on April 1, the government had wheat stocks of 24.20 million tonnes, as against the requirement of 7 million tonnes.
On the ongoing wheat procurement, the Minister said the government is expected to purchase 40 million tonnes in the 2013-14 marketing year starting April, slightly lower than the targeted 44 million tonnes for the same period.
So far, wheat procurement has touched 19.41 million tonnes in the current year.
"Wheat procurement will be below our target. It will reach around 40 million tonnes this year as private traders are buying in Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh," he said.
Wheat stocks have risen in the FCI godowns due to record procurement following bumper crops in the last two consecutive years. Wheat output is expected to be 92.30 million tonnes in the 2012-13 crop year (July-June).