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Time right to allow exports of rice and wheat, says Pawar news
24 February 2011

Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar said it was the right time for India to export food grains, although in limited quantities.

"This is the right time to give serious thought to allowing exports of certain quantities of rice and wheat as we have ample stocks," Pawar said, adding, "World prices are very good."

Wheat prices, which shot up 53 per cent in the past year, stood at $9.1675 a bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade on 14 February, the highest price since August 2008. Wheat harvested from March makes up 70 per cent of India's winter grain output.

India's wheat output is likely to touch a record 84 million tonnes in the year ending 30 June, up from a 9 February estimate of 81.5 million tonnes, Pawar said. He said the crop output projection was based on prevailing weather conditions. The harvest stood at 80.8 million tonnes in the previous season.

Export of non-basmati rice was banned in April 2008 and wheat in early 2007 to shore up domestic supplies. Record harvests in the ensuing years as also purchases from farmers saw stockpiles of rice, wheat and other grains at 47.3 million tonnes in state warehouses as of 1 February, according to Food Corporation of India.
According to food minister K V Thomas, India would consider wheat exports as it may harvest a record crop, PTI reported.

Thomas added the government would also look into allowing sugar exports and reducing minimum export price of onions.
According to government sources, a decision on whether to allow export of 500,000 tonnes of sugar under the Open General Licence (OGL) scheme could take another three weeks.

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Time right to allow exports of rice and wheat, says Pawar