Wheat production down, procurement less; atta/bread/biscuits prices soar

by Abbas Adil

Wheat production in the country is down due to “early summers”, the government’s procurement has reduced and the prices of ‘atta’ and byproducts like bread, rusks and biscuits are rising by the day. While the government is calling increasing exports as “beneficial” for farmers, experts are advocating “caution”, including imposing an upper limit on exports.

A country like India needs surplus stocks, they say, adding that private traders “cannot be allowed to dictate the market”.

“What is worrying is that while domestic prices are increasing, the government has no mechanism to cool them off. The production has reduced and there will be no purchase before next season. All this should have been considered before allowing exports,” says agriculture expert and former member of the UP Planning Commission Sudhir Panwar.

Suggesting an upper cap on exports, food and agricultural policy expert Devinder Sharma says while wheat prices registered an increase of just nine percent in the past four years, the prices of ‘atta’ went up by 42 per cent and beyond.

“There should be an upper cap of say 12 MT on exports. We have to be doubly watchful as there is no stock available in the international market. India should not land in a situation where our reserves are exhausted and we have to go around with a begging bowl,” cautions Sharma.

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