ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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POLITICS-Season of Change

years from 1990-91 to 1992-93, the actual offtake ranged from 7 to 8.8 mn tonnes of wheat and 7.9 to 10 mn tonnes of rice - generally over 80 per cent of the allocation. In the next three years from 1993-94 to 1995- 96, the offtake of wheat came down sharply to below 50 per cent of the allocation and of rice to a little over 60 per cent that is, about 5 to 6 mn tonnes of wheat and 7 to 8 mn tonnes of rice. On the other hand, the government has sold since September 1993 over 12 mn tonnes of wheat and 2 mn tonnes of rice from its stocks in the open market. Second, the government permitted export of wheat and rice. As rice export was put under open general licence (OGL) and restrictions on quantities and prices were removed, actual export in 1995-96 (October- September) at 5.51 mn tonnes turned out to be far above the target of 2.5 mn tonnes. In wheat, 2.5 mn tonnes of non-durum wheat and 0.5 mn tonnes of durum wheat were authorised for export in 1995-96 (April- March) and the export period has just been extended to June 1996. Exports and free market sales have contributed to a drastic reduction in the stocks of foodgrains with the public procurement agencies. Total stocks stood at 19.7 mn tonnes at the end of September this year, a good 10 mn tonnes lower than the level (29.95 mn tonnes) a year ago. What is more, while the stock of rice at 9.34 mn tonnes is barely equal to the minimum norm of 9.2 mn tonnes prescribed for the period, the stock of wheat at 10.36 mn tonnes is well below the prescribed norm (13.1 mn tonnes). Even so, there is tremendous pressure on the government to remove the ceiling of 1 mn tonnes on wheat exports in 1996-97 (April-March). The Agricultural and Processed Pood Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) has described the present quantitative restrictions on wheat exports as a case of muddled policy, while the Roller Flour Millers' Federation has sought a ban on wheat exports and appealed to the government to encourage export of so-called value added products. That traders are determined to mop up available surpluses and also export wheat on a larger scale is evident from the fact that against the permitted quota of 1 mn tonnes for 1996-97, applications for export of 4.6 mn tonnes are known to have already been made so far. And as a result of the encouragement given to traders, procurement of wheat in the 1996-97 marketing season (April-March) so far at 8.18 mn tonnes has been a third lower than the procurement of 12.32 mn tonnes in the corresponding period of 1995-96. The fall in procurement is much sharper than the reduction of 3.1 mn tonnes in wheat production, from 65.3 mn tonnes in 1994-95 to 62.2 mn tonnes

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