India set to harvest record grains, may allow exports

New Delhi, April 6 (Reuters): India’s record grains output in 2011 may prompt the government to allow wheat exports, Farm Minister Sharad Pawar said on Wednesday, boosting the prospect of overseas sales of the grain from the world’s second - biggest producer. Junior Farm Minister Arun Yadav last month said the country could lift a four-year-old ban on the overseas sale of the grain.
Pawar, a key member of a panel of ministers headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on food, has favoured overseas sale of farm products like sugar to keep funds flowing to mills to ensure timely payments to cane growers. India’s wheat harvest is seen at 84.3 million tonnes in 2011, higher than the previous forecast of 81.5 million tonnes and last year’s output of 80.8 million tonnes. “The government has to take a serious thought on storage, allocation to states and exports,” Pawar said while releasing the latest food grain forecast for the current crop year to June.
India’s food grain output is set to touch an all-time record of 235.88 million tonnes in 2010/11 helped by the highest-ever output of wheat and pulses, he said. The latest production forecast is 1.6 percent higher than the previous year’s 232.07 million tonnes. India’s crop year runs from July to June. Analysts said the higher grain output forecast would help the government to allow wheat exports at a time when the country’s food inflation has eased. “The record production is expected to expedite overseas sale of wheat,” said Veeresh Hiremath, research head of Hyderabad-based Karvy Comtrade, a commodity brokerage.
In 2010/11, India’s lentils production is likely to rise 18 percent to 17.3 million tonnes. India is a net importer of lentils and higher production would make the widely consumed nutritional cereals more affordable for the common man. Last week, a senior government adviser said the prospect of a good winter harvest was expected to cool food prices. India’s food inflation eased to 9.50 percent in the year to March 19, data released last Thursday showed, from 10.05 percent in the preceding week.