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India may lift ban on rice, wheat export

posted Jun 16, 2011, 1:09 AM by NAVYUG Info

India’s Agriculture minister Sharad Pawar reiterated his stand of lifting the ban on select commodities like non-basmati rice, sugar and wheat. Speaking to media men here he said it will benefit farmers and also on the fact that the country has surplus stocks and is likely heading to another year of a bumper output. With a record cereal crop estimated in the current year Pawar said there should be an open policy for export and import of agriculture commodities.

India's foodgrain stocks are at an all-time high of 65.47 million metric tons, about two-and-a-half times more than the annual requirement for state welfare programs. Still, the government is cautious on exports due to fear of worsening already high inflation and its plan to enact a law that seeks to expand the supply of subsidized grains. The country is also facing a shortage of storage facilities, with its warehouses already full. Production of farm commodities like sugar, wheat and cotton is expected to exceed local requirements, weakening their local prices as only limited or no exports are allowed.

Pawar said the time is right to immediately allow exports of 1.0 million-1.5 million tons of sugar as global prices have surged due to concerns over the crop in Brazil, the largest producer of the sweetener. India allowed exports of 500,000 tons of sugar in April. Mills have already almost exhausted the quota and want clearance to ship another 1.5 million tons in the marketing year through September. The minister said sugarcane acreage and output in the next marketing year are expected to rise at least 10% as higher local prices earlier in the year have tempted farmers to increase plantings. India, the second-biggest sugar producer, is forecast to produce 24.5 million tons of sugar this year, exceeding its annual requirement of 22.0 million-22.5 million tons.

On cotton, Pawar said the acreage is expected to jump 40% next year starting July 1, and so the government can consider more exports.