India panel to decide on rice, wheat exports: food min

India panel to decide on rice, wheat exports: food min

New Delhi: India’s food ministry is not against grains exports and a panel of ministers will decide on rice and wheat exports, the food minister said on Wednesday, without specifying any time frame.

“Food ministry is not negative to exports, but we will have to look at the demand in view of the Food Security Bill. We will place the issue before EGoM (Empowered Group of Ministers)," K.V. Thomas said.

India could decide soon to allow exports of a million tonnes each of wheat and common rice as government stocks hit a record 65.6 million tonnes, well above targets, two government sources said on Tuesday.

India, one of the world’s biggest producers and consumers of wheat and rice, has kept a tight control over grain exports since 2007, allowing only overseas sales of aromatic basmati rice, to ensure it can provide cheap food grains to the poor.

Agriculture minister, Sharad Pawar, has called for grain exports with stocks overflowing after three years of bumper harvests and the onset of the monsoon has raised concerns stocks outside could be damaged, adding to pressure for sales.

But concerns over food inflation, which is currently around 9%, and the need for supplies to fill commitments for more cheap food in a proposed Food Security Bill have stayed the government’s hand so far.