With elections in India now entering its decisive phase, the main opposition party has made it clear that it would expand food grain exports as a part of its nucleus plan to boost agriculture section in the country if it forms the next government
Ever since export restrictions were eased some years ago, India has emerged as the world's top rice exporter and a key supplier of wheat to Southeast Asia and the Middle East.
BJP has also sought to allay the concerns of grain traders who speculated that t export policy could change if the BJP ousted the ruling Congress party-led government
"We favour building the Indian grain brand globally and that would need consistency in export policy," said Satpal Malik, the BJP vice-president in charge of drafting the farm policy section of the party's election manifesto.
in the world's No.2 producer of grains.
“Not only exports, we plan to bring huge investment in the agriculture sector and will tie with the world to get the best hybrids, latest technology to boost this sector. Agriculture will be the key sector” Malik said
The current Congress-led government has conducted extensive purchases of wheat to support farmers, typically taking 25-30 million tonnes per year - or around a third of the annual crop.
But with the floor of $260 per tonne for government buying below the price Indian wheat can now fetch on international markets, exports have been profitable for state-run traders.
In a tender last Friday, Indian state traders fetched prices of as much as $285 per tonne for shipments to be made in May.
It's ridiculous to think that every policy of the previous regime would be reversed after we come to power," said Malik, a former government minister.
Repeated bumper harvests due to ample monsoon rains have led grain stocks to pile up. At the start of the new fiscal year on April 1, rice and wheat stocks were 38 million tonnes, more than double the target of 16 million tonnes.
Malik said keeping the export window open would ensure better prices for local growers and, helping cut the fiscal burden of 1.15 trillion rupees ($19 billion) arising from food subsidies.