Buffer norms for foodgrains revised

The Centre on Friday revised the buffer norms for foodgrains reserves and decided to offload excess stocks through open market sales or exports. An inter-ministerial group, comprising the secretaries of the departments of Food and Consumer Affairs and Revenue, will decide on the offloading as a step to contain inflation and reduce storage costs.

A meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, gave its nod for setting up the group. “This will ensure better management of food stocks in the country,” an official release said.

The revised buffer norm for April 1 is 21.04 million tonnes of wheat and rice as against the present 21.2 million tonnes. For July 1, it is 41.12 million tonnes as against 31.9 million tonnes. On October 1, the stock should be 30.77 million tonnes as against 21.2 million tonnes and on Jan. 1, it should be 21.41 million tonnes as against 25 million tonnes. The buffer will include five million tonnes of strategic reserves of wheat and rice. The proposal is to upgrade the quarterly buffer requirement to bring it in line with the distribution needs under the National Food Security Act, official sources told The Hindu .

As much as 61.4 million tonnes of foodgrains is required a year for welfare schemes — Antyodaya Anna Yojana and for the provision of 5 kg to each member of a priority household under the National Food Security Act.

Norms for buffer stocks had not been revised since 2002, while the stocking of strategic reserves for calamities and so on has been done since 2005.

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