India's grain mountain grows despite push for exports
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"Despite our best efforts, we (India) cannot export to an extent where stocks come down to somewhat manageable levels," said Tejinder Narang, adviser at New Delhi-based trading company Emmsons International.
"The government will have to struggle with mammoth stocks. There's no way out."
That means India is unable to capitalise fully on the opportunity to export to international markets, where there is room for more Indian supply to compensate for poor harvests from major producers.
Benchmark Chicago wheat prices jumped 19.2 percent last year as adverse weather conditions reduced harvests from Australia and Russia, the world's second and third largest exporters. Wheat was the best-performing commodity on the Thomson Reuters-Jefferies CRB index in 2012.
Storage space of 47 million tonnes can accommodate less than half of the expected stockpiles, and the rest will sit under tarpaulins in the open.
Wheat consumption and exports from government warehouses will likely account for around 82 million tonnes of India's 92.3 million tonnes of output in 2013. Additional 2 million tonnes of exports by private traders will leave a surplus of around 8 million tonnes.
India produced a record 105.31 million tonnes of rice last year, while domestic consumption stood at around 90 million tonnes.
The government has so far given permission for 4.5 million tonnes of wheat exports from state storage in 2012/2013. It will likely raise that to 6 million tonnes but beyond that the permits may be no more than a paper solution as there is no real capacity to ship more out unless the bureaucrats push for wheat to have priority over rice exports.
A food ministry official, who declined to be identified, said his ministry was pressing the cabinet to allow India to export as much as possible while prices are firm.
RISK FROM PESTS
India's grain stockpile has grown rapidly over recent years, thanks to near-perfect weather and the government's commitment to buy the entire quantity of wheat and rice brought to market in a bid to support farmers.
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