New Delhi: India’s wheat and rice stocks more than doubled as at 1 March, government sources said on Monday, indicating the country’s ability to free some stocks for exports and open market sale.
Stocks of wheat were at 18.4 million tonnes, sharply higher than a target of 8.2 million tonnes, while that of rice were at 26.9 million tonnes compared with a targeted 11.8 million tonnes.
Bulging stocks and prospects of a bumper wheat crop in 2010, the fourth in a row to exceed demand, have raised concerns about storage.
Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar last week said a panel of ministers led by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee would meet this week to discuss lifting of a ban on exports of wheat and common grades of rice.
Analysts say India must export more wheat to accommodate the new crop to be harvested from March 10. The country has already allowed state-run firms to ship small quantities of wheat and regular grades of rice to neighbours Sri Lanka and Nepal.
India, the world’s second-biggest producer of wheat and rice, buys grains from domestic farmers to run various welfare programmes, protect farmers from distress sale, and meet emergency needs.