The government is likely to allow exports of two million tonnes of wheat through private trade, and one million tonnes of non-basmati rice from its own godowns which is expected to ease storage problem.
This will end more than four years of ban on exports of foodgrain. The government in early 2007 had banned wheat exports and later in April 2008 non-basmati rice exports were also barred.
“We have suggested export of three million tonnes of wheat and rice. We favour wheat export from private trade, but we want to export non-basmati rice through FCI godowns,” Food Minister K.V. Thomas told reporters, in New Delhi.
The minister, however, also said the UPA government’s strategy is to offload more quantity of subsidised foodgrains to the poor through ration shops and limit exports of wheat and non-basmati rice.
Recently, the government has allocated five million tonnes of wheat and rice to BPL and APL families. It is also gearing up to distribute another five million tonnes to 150 poor villages as per the directive of the Supreme Court.
Mr. Thomas explained that the logic behind allowing non-basmati rice from FCI godowns is that the grain could be damaged if stored in covered and plinth.
However, the minister said that exports will take place at a time when farmers will benefit.
The current storage capacity with both Centre and States stands at 62.36 million tonnes, while the stocks are at an all-time high of 65.4 million tonnes.
The country is set to harvest a record 235.88 million tonnes of foodgrains in 2010-11 crop year (July-June) on the back of a good monsoon.