In a series of moves that includes undue hikes in procurement price and import plans despite strong forecasted production, the government is sending messages that it is anticipating large shortages in wheat. Food and Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar announced that the government will pay Rs. 100 more per quintal of wheat bringing up the effective price by 30 percent to Rs. 850 per quintal (up from Rs. 650 a year ago). He also announced that the State Trading Corporation (STC) will be importing 3 million tons of wheat by the end of this calendar year.
It is not clear why the government has announced these measures that will have a fiscal impact of Rs.1,500 crore (USD 340 million) at a time when inflation is a major concern and estimate production is 73 million tons compared to 69.5 million tons. Speculation is rife that the government's decision to coincide with the Uttar Pradesh elections, which is the largest wheat producing state in India.