India can record 10 million tonnes (mt) of annual wheat export through sustained annual production of about 95 mt and continuous reduction in post-harvest crop losses due to inadequate scientific storage capacity, a study by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham) has said.
The study quantifies total wheat spoilage due to the dearth of adequate storage and the slow pace of creating fresh warehousing capacity at about 40 per cent of India’s annual wheat output, worth Rs 50,000 crore.
“A long-term and stable wheat export policy is the need of the hour, as it will go a long way in developing a dedicated clientele in the global wheat market, helping India earn much-needed foreign exchange. Thus, issues vis-à-vis storage, domestic consumption, food security needs, population growth, etc, must be analysed and a pragmatic view should be taken in this regard,” the study said.
“India should formulate a strategy to garner about 10 per cent share in the global wheat market, provided the right steps are taken to tap this potential in the long run,” D S Rawat, Assocham’s national secretary-general, said while releasing the study.
In 2012-13, India’s wheat export stood at 6.5 mt, worth Rs 10,529 crore, compared with a mere 0.74 mt, worth Rs 1,023 crore, in 2011-12, data compiled by the Directorate General of Commercial Intelligence and Statistics, under the commerce ministry, showed.
The total production of wheat, which accounts for about 35 per cent of India’s foodgrain basket, might stand at 100 mt by 2016-17, against 93.5 mt as of 2012-13. However, unless concerted efforts are made to fight the vagaries of weather, pests, diseases and poor productivity in most wheat-producing states, it was difficult to achieve higher production on a consistent basis, Rawat said.
Assocham believes procurement by government agencies might exceed the official target of 34.12 mt, as the quality of wheat this year has been affected by hailstorms and unseasonal rains. Also, farmers prefer to unload inferior-quality wheat early and, therefore, the government might end up procuring more.
With about 90 mt of annual wheat production, India ranks second only to China. However in terms of yield (three mt/ha), India is far behind European countries such as France, Germany and the UK (each has about seven mt/ha) and China (five mt/ha).