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S-E Asian demand may see maize exports soar

S-E Asian demand may see maize exports soar

Mumbai: India’s maize exports may rise to a record 2 million tonnes (mt) in the year to June as animal feed makers in South-East Asia seek cheaper alternatives to supplies from the US, industry officials said.

Exporters have sold 1mt in the past six months and shipments could double as the grain from India is at least $25 (Rs992.5) a tonne cheaper than from the US, Manish V. Gupta, managing director of Gujarat Ambuja Exports Ltd, said. Overseas sales last year totalled around 400,000 tonnes.

Increased supply from India may help cool prices of maize in Chicago that reached a record early this month. Maize has advanced 23% in the past year, reaching a peak $5.29 on 6 February, as demand for ethanol and livestock feed rose.

“Everything is in favour of corn exports from India," said Gupta. “There’s ample demand and freight is lower" than that charged by US suppliers. India may harvest 16.8mt of corn this year—up 11% a year earlier, the agriculture ministry had said on 7 February. That may leave a surplus of 2mt for exports, he said. “A reasonable quantity of corn is available for exports and shipments will continue," Atul Chaturvedi, president at Adani Enterprises Ltd, the biggest exporter of agriculture products, said. Indian maize was priced around $245 a tonne free on board, he said.

Even so, congestion at ports and concerns about a ban on exports of the grain may slow shipments, Ambuja’s Gupta said. Indian producers of poultry feed and starch, the biggest users of maize, want the government to ban exports because of a shortage caused by a fall in output. Shipments by non-state-run traders were banned for six months in 2007.

“If India doesn’t ban exports, domestic users may have to pay a bomb to import the grain," Gupta said.

Maize futures for March delivery rose 0.7% to $5.15 a bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade on 15 February. In India, maize for immediate delivery rose as much as 0.5% to Rs745 per 100 kg on the National Commodity and Derivatives Exchange Ltd.

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