Government Denies It May Import Wheat: No Such Plan

'No Such Plan': Government Denies It May Import Wheat

India harvested 106.84 million tonnes of wheat in 2022.

New Delhi:

India has enough wheat to feed its people, the government said on Sunday, refuting a Bloomberg report that said production cuts and rising prices worsened by a heatwave may force it to consider grain imports.

“There is no such plan to import wheat into India. Country has sufficient stocks to meet our domestic requirements and @FCI_India (Food Corporation of India) has enough stock for pubic distribution,” the Department of Food and Public Distribution posted on Twitter in response to the report.

News agency Bloomberg had reported the news saying the Finance Ministry had not responded to an email seeking comment and a spokesperson for the food and commerce ministries declined to respond.

India raised its wheat production estimate on Wednesday even as other forecasters and traders were scaling down output numbers because of the heatwave.

The world’s second biggest grains producer harvested 106.84 million tonnes of wheat in 2022, slightly higher than the previous estimate of 106.41 million tonnes, the government said in its latest estimate released by the farm ministry.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service has pegged India’s production at 99 million tonnes, while traders estimated output fell to as low as 95 million tonnes because of the heatwave.

Local wheat prices jumped to a record Rs 24,309 per tonne on Wednesday. That was up nearly 15 per cent from recent lows that followed the government’s surprise ban on exports on May 14, ending hopes that India could fill the market gap left by missing Ukraine grain.

The government’s lower wheat procurement and rising local prices are indicating a sharp drop in production, said a Mumbai-based dealer with a global trading firm.

“It’s very difficult to believe in the government number of 106.84 million tonnes. Production could be around 95 million tonnes,” he said.

India’s wheat procurement fell 57 per cent from a year ago to 18.8 million tonnes.

The south Asian country could scrap a 40 per cent duty on wheat imports and cap the amount of stocks traders can hold to try to dampen record high domestic prices, government and trade officials said last week.

India also on Wednesday raised its rice production estimate for 2021/22 crop to 130.29 million tonnes from 129.66 million tonnes.

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