India's grain mountain grows despite push for exports
In March, farmers in India will begin to harvest the sixth consecutive wheat crop expected to exceed demand, and when threshing is over in June the government's combined wheat and rice stocks are set to hit 100 million tonnes. That is about a fifth higher than the volume in storage a year ago.
The grain mountain is worth about $30 billion and the nation of 1.2 billion will soon have enough wheat piled up to feed its poor for a year. But in a stark example of India's corruption-plagued and inefficient food distribution and storage system, much will simply end up rotting in a country with 500 million poor, and despite a need for income from exports to reduce a record current account deficit.
The food ministry is pressing the government to increase exports, but India's creaking transport system means that a large portion of grains will simply not be able to get to ports even with global prices jumping a fifth last year.
The country's grain export facilities are working flat out, but the government will struggle to ship more than 6 million tonnes of wheat in 2013 from its stocks, while sales by private exporters will be capped at around 2 million tonnes.
If exports reach 8 million tonnes
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