India has enough wheat to feed its people, the government said on Sunday, refuting a Bloomberg report that said production cuts and rising prices worsened by a heatwave may force it to consider grain imports.
“There is no such plan to import wheat into India. Country has sufficient stocks to meet our domestic requirements and @FCI_India (Food Corporation of India) has enough stock for public distribution,” the Department of Food and Public Distribution posted on Twitter in response to the report.
News agency Bloomberg had earlier reported that looming shortage and rising prices is forcing authorities to consider imports. It had also said that the Finance Ministry had not responded to an email seeking comment and a spokesperson for the food and commerce ministries declined to respond.
In May, India had banned wheat exports to control the escalating prices of the crop in the country.
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Raises production estimates
On August 8, Reuters had reported that India could cut a 40 per cent duty on wheat imports to rein in the rising domestic prices of the crop and to help flour millers in some regions to import grain.
Meanwhile, India raised its wheat production estimate on Wednesday even as other forecasters and traders were scaling down output numbers because of the heatwave.
Authorities now expect the 2021-22 harvest to come in at around 107 million tonnes, down from a February estimate of 111 million tonnes. That may still be too optimistic as traders and flour millers forecast 98 million to 102 million tonnes.
Aug reserves at record low
State reserves have declined in August to the lowest level for the month in 14 years, according to Food Corporation of India, while consumer wheat inflation is running at close to 12 per cent.
Government purchases of wheat for the country’s food aid programme are expected to be less than half of levels last year, according to the food ministry. That prompted authorities to distribute more rice in some states, and also to restrict exports of wheat flour and other products, Bloomberg report said.
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Also adding to the problem is the inflation that has remained high for the last few months. Consumer wheat inflation has held above 9 per cent year-on-year since April and surged to 11.7 per cent in July. Wholesale prices were up even more, by 13.6 per cent in July, official data shows. The Reserve Bank of India is striving to bring overall inflation, currently near 7 per cent, back under its 6 per cent target.