The Centre on Sunday dismissed reports that stated that India was likely to import wheat due to a decline in its reserve stock of the foodgrain, reported ANI.
“The country has sufficient stocks to meet our domestic requirements and Food Corporation of India has enough stock for public distribution,” the Department of Food and Public Distribution said in a clarification.
Earlier on Sunday, Bloomberg reported that India was likely to import the foodgrain to meet its requirements. On August 8, Reuters reported that India could cut a 40% duty on wheat imports to rein in the rising domestic prices of the crop.
“If global prices fall by another 20% and Indian prices continue their rally, then maybe, sometime after a few months, imports might become feasible,” an unidentified trader was quoted as saying.
In April, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had offered to “feed the world” in the wake of dwindling wheat supply due to the war in Ukraine. However, in a policy U-turn just about a month later, India banned wheat exports to control the escalating prices of the crop in the country.
India was among the many countries that has stepped in to mitigate the supply chain disruptions that had occurred after Russia invaded Ukraine – which accounts for 10% of global wheat supply – on February 24.
India, which only accounted for 1% of global exports before the Russia-Ukraine conflict, in April said that it was looking to export a record one crore tonnes of wheat in 2022-’23.
However, a spate of severe heatwaves since March hurt wheat production.
According to the Food Corporation of India, state reserves declined in August to the lowest level for the month in 14 years, Bloomberg reported. Wheat inflation, on the other hand, is close to 12%, indicating that India may consider grain imports, the news outlet reported.
“Given a lot of the war risk premium has come off from global wheat prices, India can look at augmenting its domestic wheat supply via more imports,” said Sonal Varma, an economist at Nomura Holdings Inc, reported Bloomberg. “However, since domestic wholesale wheat prices are lower than global prices, a reduction in import duties will also be essential to make it a viable option.”
India’s wheat production is likely to fall 3% to 10.63 crore tonnes this year from last year’s output of 10.95 crore tonnes, according to the Union agriculture ministry’s third advance estimate of the output of food grains.
India last imported wheat in April 2017 and March 2018.