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Govt regulates wheat, rice flow

The Centre, worried over rising food prices and inflation rate jumping the 5 % mark, restricts rice exports, reports Jatin Gandhi.
Hindustan Times | By Jatin Gandhi, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAR 08, 2008 02:30 AM IST

The Centre, worried over rising food prices and the inflation rate jumping the 5 per cent mark, restricted rice exports on Friday and said wheat procurement by private traders would be further regulated.

Two separate orders were issued on rice exports and wheat procurement in a move aimed at regulating prices and checking hoarding or unnecessary export of the grains.

The Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution has ordered companies and traders to inform the authorities if they purchase more than 10,000 tonnes of wheat this season. “This will prevent aggressive buying and the government will know exactly where the stocks of wheat are. Last year, the lower limit was 50,000 tonnes,” a ministry official said.

The move is also aimed at increasing government procurement, the official added. As the UPA government enters the final year of its term, the last thing it would want is soaring food prices. Global wheat prices have gone up by 88 per cent in the past year.

According to the Wheat (Stock Declaration by Companies or Firms or Individuals) Order 2008, a company, firm or individual buying more than 10,000 tonnes of wheat during the entire Rabi marketing season (April 2008 to March 2009) will have to furnish details of procurement to the government of the state from which the maximum quantity has been procured.

The government has already implemented a similar order for rice procurement in the private sector, where traders and companies are asked to file returns.

In a separate order regulating the export of rice, issued by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, the government has said basmati rice can be exported only if it fetches a Minimum Export Price (MEP) of $900 (Rs 36,000) per tonne. For export of non-basmati rice, the MEP has been raised to $650 (Rs 26,000) per tonne.

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