India has no immediate plans to import wheat as the country hopes to harvest more than 75 million tonnes (mt) of the grain in 2008, Union agriculture and food minister Sharad Pawar said on Friday, raising hopes for prices to cool in global markets.
In December, India had abandoned purchases against a tender for 330,000 tonnes after it found prices quoted by bidders to be too high. It earlier bought 1.8mt of the grain in 2007 at record high rates, leading to vehement criticism at home.
“There is no plan to import wheat immediately,” Pawar said. “Weather has been good so far and if the conditions continue to remain the same, safely we can say we will cross 75mt of production.”
India, the world’s second-biggest wheat producer and consumer, harvested 74.9mt in 2007. It annually consumes 73mt.
The government also maintains strategic reserves. Food Corporation of India, the main grain procurement agency, hopes to build a buffer stock of at least 4mt on 1 April to run various welfare programmes.
In 2006, India ordered imports for the first time in six years and bought a total of 5.5mt. Each tender launched by India fuelled a rally in global prices. Imports were to refurbish government stocks and rein in domestic prices after bad weather cut wheat output to 69.3mt.