New Delhi: The government is likely to go slow on deciding on wheat export from central pool stocks this year, amid forecasts of poor monsoon rains, a senior government official said.
“Right now, we are just waiting and watching…Any call on exports will be taken only after 2-3 months, when we have some idea on how monsoon is progressing, how kharif sowing is progressing,” the official said.
The India Meteorological Department has lowered its forecast for Jun-Sep monsoon rains to 93% of the long-period average from 95% predicted earlier.
While wheat is largely grown in irrigated areas during the rabi season, the crop could still be affected due to poor soil moisture and low reservoir levels in a poor monsoon year.
Concerns over rising food inflation are also likely to keep wheat exports from government stocks on hold for now, the official said.
“We do not want to hurry exports looking at the price situation,” the official said.
The government on Tuesday announced a slew of steps to rein in food inflation, which rose to 9.50% in May from 8.64% a month ago, pushing the Wholesale Price Index inflation up to a five-month high of 6.01%.
The official said government wheat exports coming under the scanner of the World Trade Organisation offers another reason to be quiet on the export front for a while.
Canada and the US had in February questioned export of wheat from central pool stocks at a lower export floor and the subsidy involved. The government had lowered its export floor price to $260 a tn from $300 a tn, as world prices were weak.
Both the US and the European Union have asked India to submit information on food subsidy schemes to the WTO as a pre-condition for starting negotiations on procurement subsidies.
The government had last year permitted export of 2 mln tn of wheat from central pool, while actual exports were around 1.5 mln tn.