Singapore: India, the world’s second biggest wheat producer, is likely to export the grain for the first time in six years after bumper harvests boosted stocks, a leading grains trader said on Tuesday.
The country will harvest 76.5 million tonnes (mt) of wheat this year, just 1.6% below official estimates, Vijay Iyengar, managing director of Singapore-based Agrocorp International Pte Ltd, said.
Higher than normal temperatures in main wheat-growing areas in January had raised concerns about a bigger fall in output but recent showers have cooled the region and helped the crop, officials say.
“There was some heat stress, so the output will be around 76.5mt,” Iyengar said on the sidelines of a grains conference in Singapore.
Last week, the agriculture ministry estimated the country would produce 77.8mt of wheat in 2009, almost the same as last year’s record harvest of the crop.
“They will have to export around 1mt as they have had very good procurement last year and they need to take care of the new crop,” Iyengar said.
India last exported wheat in 2003-04 and imported the commodity for two years from 2006.
The country’s entry into the world wheat market could further depress prices, which have fallen nearly 60% to $5.30 (Rs261) per bushel since peaking on the global benchmark Chicago Board of Trade in March.
The wheat market has been pressured by rising global supplies.
The government had banned the export of rice and wheat in the past two years because of fears of dwindling stocks and rising prices ahead of the general election due by May.
Inflation has fallen to 4.4% from a peak of just under 13% in August, while record harvests of wheat and rice have prodded the government to partially ease some curbs on commodity trade.
Wheat stocks with Food Corp. of India stood at 18.2mt at end of December against the buffer requirement of 8.2mt.
Himangshu Watts in New Delhi contributed to this story.