India to offer 5 million tons wheat to bulk consumers to cool prices

By Mayank Bhardwaj

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India will provide 5 million metric tons of wheat and 2.5 million tons of rice to bulk consumers such as flour millers, as part of efforts to augment supplies and stabilise prices, a senior government official told reporters on Wednesday.

The world’s second-largest consumer of wheat and rice has been attempting to boost supplies and lower prices of both staples through a slew of measures, including banning exports of non-basmati white rice and imposing stock limits on wheat.

The country has adequate stocks of wheat and rice which the government can release on the open market to stabilise prices, Food Secretary Sanjeev Chopra said on Wednesday.

As of Aug. 1, wheat stocks in government warehouses stood at 28.3 million metric tons, an increase from 26.6 million tons a year earlier.

“People are hoarding wheat in anticipation of prices going up but they should realise that there are adequate stocks with the government,” Chopra said.

Wholesale wheat prices in India surged to a six-month high on Wednesday on limited supplies.

“People involved in the trade should not try to take advantage of the situation by hoarding wheat,” he said.

India is considering cutting or even abolishing a 40% import tax on wheat and lowering a limit on the amount of wheat stocks millers and traders can hold, Chopra, the most senior civil servant at the federal food ministry, said last week.

(Reporting by Mayank Bhardwaj; writing by Rajendra Jadhav; Editing by Louise Heavens, Kirsten Donovan)