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India: Wheat purchases by govt at 25.4 mn tonnes, 1.5% lower than last year

India has bought 25.4 million metric tons of new-season wheat from domestic farmers to shore up its depleted reserves, a 1.55% decline from last year, government sources said on Wednesday.

Wheat purchases by the government-backed Food Corporation of India (FCI) got off to a slow start last month, but procurement picked up in recent weeks, said the sources who didn’t wish to be named as they are not authorised to talk to the media.

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However, trade and industry officials say the world’s second-biggest wheat producer won’t be able to achieve its procurement target of 30-32 million tons.

New Delhi had also failed to achieve its wheat procurement target in 2022 and 2023, as a sudden rise in temperatures clipped output.

Lower output fanned domestic prices, prompting the FCI to sell a little more than 10 million tons, a record high, from its stocks to bulk buyers like flour millers and biscuit makers.

Because of the record sales, wheat stocks at government warehouses have dropped to their lowest since 2008.

Wheat reserves in state stores totalled 7.5 million tons at the start of April, down from 8.35 million tons a year earlier.

Over the past decade, wheat stocks on April 1 had averaged at 16.7 million tons.

However, May wheat inventories are higher than April after new season purchases by the FCI bumped up reserves.

India is keen to replenish its wheat reserves this year as it seeks to curb domestic prices that have been above the state-fixed minimum buying price since the past crop was harvested.

Reuters last month reported that India asked global and domestic trade houses to avoid buying new-season wheat from local farmers to help the FCI procure large quantities to shore up its reserves.
Source: Business Standard

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