June 14, 2019 / 4:19 PM / 3 months ago

India allows 100,000 tonnes corn imports at lower duty as prices jump

A workers empties a sack of corn kernels at the Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) market yard on the outskirts of Ahmedabad, India, August 31, 2016. REUTERS/Amit Dave/File Photo

MUMBAI (Reuters) - India allowed two state-run trading companies to import 100,000 tonnes of corn at a concessional 15 percent import tax, the government said on Friday, as prices of the animal feed jumped in the south Asian country because of drought.

State-run MMTC and NAFED were each allowed to import 50,000 tonnes of corn for poultry firms in the 2019-20 financial year starting on April 1, it said in a statement.

India, the world’s seventh-biggest corn producer, otherwise imposes a 60 percent import tax on the grain.

An infestation of the fall armyworm, which devastated African crops in 2017, and dry weather in some areas have cut India’s corn output.

A major exporter of corn to southeast Asia until a few years ago, India has turned into an importer as output has fallen and demand increased from the country’s poultry producers and corn starch manufacturers.

The switch in India’s position has brought cheer to rival suppliers such as Brazil, Argentina and the United States, which have now replaced New Delhi in the southeast Asian market.

India, which does not allow cultivation of any genetically modified food crops, has rules designed to ensure that imports contain no trace of Genetically modified organisms.

Reporting by Rajendra Jadhav; Editing by David Goodman

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