The Union government on Wednesday reduced the amount of wheat to be allocated to states and Union Territories from May to September under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana, reported PTI.

The reduced quota of wheat will be made up for with rice, the ministry of consumer Affairs, food and public distribution has said.

Bihar, Kerala and Uttar Pradesh will not receive any wheat for free distribution under the food security welfare programme. The quota for eight other states has been reduced. These are Delhi, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Uttarakhand and West Bengal.

The revision came after the food and public distribution ministry lowered its estimates for procurement of wheat for this year to 198.12 metric tonnes, from the earlier decided quantity of 439.92 metric tonnes, government data showed on Wednesday.

After the revision, the wheat allocation per month under the welfare scheme will drop to 7.23 metric tonnes annually, from 18.50 metric tonnes.

The Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana was launched to provide free food grains to over 80 crore beneficiaries under the National Food Security Act during the coronavirus pandemic. Under the scheme, the Centre provides five kilograms of foodgrains per person free of cost every month.

“An additional allocation of about 55 lakh metric tonnes of rice will be made and the same quantity of wheat will be saved,” Food Secretary Sudhanshu Pandey said at a press conference.

Data from the ministry showed that the government had 190 LMT, or 193.04 metric tonnes, of wheat at the beginning of financial year 2022-’23. With the estimated wheat procurement, India will have a total stock of 385 LMT, or 391.16 metric tonnes.

At the end of the financial year after distributing produce through welfare schemes, India will be left with 80 LMT, or 81.28 metric tonnes, of wheat. This is higher than the minimum stocking norm of 75 LMT, or 76.2 metric tonnes.

(Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution)

At the press conference, Pandey said the wheat production in the country is estimated to remain at 1,066.80 metric tonnes this year. This is lower than the earlier estimate of 1,130.80 metric tonnes.

The ministry said that lower wheat procurement was due to more farmers in Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat selling their produce to traders in the open market at a higher rate than the minimum support price at which the government does procurement.

“In Punjab, Haryana, UP [Uttar Pradesh] production is low due to early summer and shrivelled grain,” the ministry said. It added that farmers and traders were also holding some wheat expecting higher prices of the grain few months later.

Meanwhile, the government also ruled out limiting the export of wheat. Pandey said that till now 40.64 metric tonnes of wheat has been contracted for export this year and about 11.1 metric tonnes, has been exported in April.