In the case of other essential food items, he said retail prices of rice and wheat are “very stable”, while prices of pulses have stabilized. Retail prices of vegetables, especially onions, potatoes and tomatoes, have also come down.
Pandey told a press conference, “The indications suggest that the situation is going to normalize in terms of prices of all the major essential vegetables consumed in every household. Not expected.”
In the case of edible oils, the Secretary said that when the country is dependent on imports of around 60 per cent of its edible oil requirement, the domestic prices will naturally be influenced by the international prices.
Pandey said the government has reduced the import duty in case of edible oils to almost zero and it has shown a very significant reduction in (retail) prices.
The retail edible oil prices have come down by 15 to 20 per cent after the government held several meetings with the stakeholders.
He said that for the first time in the history of the edible oil industry, global prices are operating at higher levels. Among other things, declining production in Malaysia, a shift to biodiesel in Indonesia and the failure of a sunflower seed crop in Argentina have pushed up international prices.
However, India’s domestic oilseeds production is expected to increase this year as mustard sowing in the current rabi season is about 32 per cent higher than a year ago.
“Therefore, we can expect more mustard crop in the coming months, which will definitely bring down prices,” the secretary said.
He said that the government is monitoring the prices of essential commodities very closely in its regular inter-ministerial meetings on a weekly basis.