The Centre will intervene in the market with the release of up to 30 lakh tonnes of wheat under the Open Market Sale Scheme (OMSS) between October 2009 and March 2010 to enhance availability and check prices, Minister of State for Agriculture, Food and Public Distribution K.V. Thomas said here on Tuesday.

With comfortable wheat stocks, the government will allow export of wheat products, he said ruling out export of wheat grain. Mr. Thomas was addressing the annual general meeting of roller flour millers here.

The allocation will be made to State governments, while the Food Corporation of India, through tenders, will sell wheat to bulk consumers. Initially, the government will release 10 lakh tonnes.

The Minister said the government had removed restrictions like, stock holding limits on wheat to facilitate purchase by private trade during the harvesting season. He expressed hope that the roller flour milling industry would source its raw material during the harvesting season and not depend solely on open market sales by the government for meeting their requirements.

“Millers should go in for value-added products, instead of sticking to atta, sooji and maida,” he said.

The Minister also asked them to work with the Central Warehousing Corporation to augment storage facilities in the country.

The Central government has allowed export of up to 6.5 lakh tonnes of wheat products during 2009-2010. However, export of wheat has not been permitted in order to conserve stocks, as kharif production was estimated to be lower than last year due to drought, Mr. Thomas said.

The Centre urged the States to encourage distribution of atta through Public Distribution System. “The initiative taken for fortification and distribution of atta under the PDS by various States is a welcome step. I am sure that with wide dissemination of the benefits accruing from the distribution of fortified atta, more States will adopt the scheme,” he added.

Mr. Thomas said that the proposed National Food Security Bill had been delayed as the Centre is yet to arrive at a consensus with States on the number of below poverty line (BPL) families who will be eligible for subsidised foodgrains under the law. Some States issued more BPL ration cards than the number of the poor families.

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