Sugar export quota to be announced soon, sufficient wheat stock in India: food secretary

By CNBCTV18.com IST (Released)

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Food Secretary Sudhanshu Pandey said the government’s wheat production forecast was around 105 million tonnes for the rabi season of the 2021-22 crop year (July-June), while estimates of trade were 95 to 98 million tons.

Addressing the 82nd Annual General Meeting of the Roller Flour Millers Federation of India, Food Secretary Sudhanshu Pandey said there are enough stocks of wheat in the country. He further assured that measures against hoarders will be taken, if necessary, to stimulate domestic supply.

To control hoarding, the government could consider measures such as requiring traders to disclose wheat stocks and imposing stock limits, he said.

The Minister of Food was talking about the sudden rise in the price of wheat. He pointed out that wheat prices had risen due to “speculative trading”. Pandey pointed out that wheat was slowly coming to market as speculators were still hoarding in anticipation of higher prices.

Mr Pandey said the government’s wheat production forecast was around 105 million tonnes for the rabi season of the 2021-22 crop year (July-June), while trade estimates were 95-98 million tons.

Pandey assured that production is sufficient to meet domestic demand even if trade estimates are to be believed.

The country has exported 4.5 million tonnes of wheat so far this fiscal year. Of that total, 2.1 million tonnes were shipped before the wheat export ban was imposed on May 13. India exported 7.2 million tons of wheat in the previous fiscal year.

“There is no problem with the availability of wheat in the country. The overall amount that we need for domestic needs is available in the country,” Pandey said. “Sufficient wheat is available in the country. We will take action if necessary to bring the grain to market,” he said.

India’s wheat production is estimated to have fallen to 106.84 million tonnes in the 2021-22 crop year from 109.6 million tonnes the previous year. Heat waves in some wheat producing states like Punjab and Haryana are attributed to it.

This forced the Center to ban wheat exports and supply more rice instead of wheat through ration stores.

Pandey also added that an announcement on the sugar export quota for the next marketing year starting in October could be made soon. However, he did not reveal how much sugar will be allowed for export.

In May, the government had authorized the export of 100 lakh tons of sugar, but later authorized another 12 lakh tons to raise the total export quota for the 2021-22 marketing year to 112 lakh tons.

India’s sugar exports stood at 70 lakh tons in the 2020-21 marketing year, 59 lakh tons in 2019-20 and 38 lakh tons in 2018-19.

Aditya Jhunjhunwala, Chairman of the Indian Sugar Mills Association (ISMA) had asked in a letter to Minister of Food and Consumer Affairs, Piyush Goyal, “We would like to request the government to allow 80 lakh tonnes of exports for 2022 -23 SS (Sugar Season).”

-With PTI entries

Rachel J. Bradford