India grain stocks sharply higher

New Delhi / Reuters India’s Jan. 1 wheat stocks at government warehouses were 25.7 million tonnes, more than three times the official target for the quarter ending Mar. 31 government sources said Jan. 9.

Rice inventory for the same period was 29.8 million tonnes against a target of 11.8 million tonnes. The wheat target was 8.2 million tonnes.

The government has allowed two million tonnes each of non-basmati rice and wheat exports by private traders, easing a ban on overseas sales since early 2007.

Last month, stocks of wheat were at 27.6 million tonnes, while those of rice were 27.1 million tonnes. India harvests only one wheat crop a year while the new-season rice harvest begins in October, bumping up stocks which are then drawn on for distribution in government welfare schemes.

The government buys grains from farmers for programs that try to ensure cheaper food for the poor and to meet emergencies.

Since 2009 the government has also been keeping an additional three million tonnes of wheat and two million tonnes of rice as strategic reserves over and above the monthly stocks.

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