April 11, 2008 / 9:12 AM / 12 years ago

India may import 1 mln tonnes wheat this year - trade

A labourer spreads wheat to dry them at a grain market in Chandigarh in this April 22, 2007 file photo. India may import one million tonnes of wheat this year to increase its stockpiles, a top official with a leading export house said on Friday. REUTERS/Ajay Verma/Files

MUMBAI (Reuters) - India may import one million tonnes of wheat this year to increase its stockpiles, a top official with a leading export house said on Friday.

India turned to international markets in 2006 after a gap of six years to import 5.5 million tonnes and bought another 1.8 million tonnes last year to shore up buffer stocks.

“There might be some imports in the second half of the year to boost buffer stocks. Maybe about a million tonnes,” Atul Chaturvedi, president of the Adani Enterprises Ltd, India’s biggest private exporter of farm goods, told Reuters.

“We do not see a need for big-time imports,” he said on the sidelines of a conference in Mumbai.

India stockpiles wheat for emergencies and to sell the grain at subsidised rates to the poor.

The Food Corporation of India, custodian of the country’s foodgrains, hopes to buy more than 15 million tonnes of wheat in 2008 from domestic farmers, up from 11.5 million tonnes last year.

Chaturvedi said prices of wheat in India were expected to remain about 13 rupees ($0.326) per kg on prospects of a good harvest in 2008.

The government last month forecast 2008 wheat output at 74.81 million tonnes against 75.81 million tonnes last year. But officials have said the estimate was conservative and production might touch 76 million tonnes on favourable weather.

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