By Pramod Kumar Jha
New Delhi, Feb 28 | Continued bullish trend in commodity prices has enhanced the prospects of the exports of agricultural produces from India during Covid-19 pandemic season as global prices of grains like wheat, rice, maize are ruling at multi-year high.
Prices of agri commodities in the international markets rose sharply during post-Covid season due to supply disruptions in the major producing countries which made a way for India to increase its exports of agricultural produce.
Hence, the pandemic brought an opportunity for Indian agriculture and allied sector which grew 3.9 per cent in the third quarter of the current financial year registering positive growth rates in past three quarters.
Wheat prices have shot up over 48 per cent in the international market since June 2020 while corn prices rose sharply over 91 per cent in the global market which has raised the prospects of the exports of both commodities from India to the international market, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has projected that India’s wheat export at 18 lakh tonnes, highest in past six years.
Prices of rough rice have also increased over 110 per cent in the international market.
As per the USDA’s projection, the supply and demand of the wheat and rice will sharply increase in India this year as the country is to hit a fresh record for the fifth consecutive year.
Market experts said that prices of the commodity have also surged due to increased liquidity in the global market which finds its way into the agri-commodity markets.
The exports of wheat, non-basmati rice, maize and other grains rose sharply in the past three quarters of the current fiscal year.
As per the Commerce Ministry’ data, the export of wheat rose by a considerably by 456.41 per cent to Rs 1,870 crore ($252 Million) against Rs 336 crore ($48 Million) reported during the first nine months of previous year.
The export of non-basmati rice surged 122.61 per cent to Rs 22,856 crore ($3.06 billion) against Rs 10,268 crore ($1.45 billion) last year. However, the export of Basmati rice grew moderately by 5.31 per cent to Rs 22,038 crore ($2.94 billion) against Rs 20,926 crore ($2.93 billion) in the said period.
Also, the exports of millets rose 189.09 per cent in rupee term in the current fiscal.
Wheat prices are ruling nearly seven year high in the international market while corn prices have surged the highest level in nearly past eight years. Neighbouring countries like Bangladesh, Srilanka and Nepal are sourcing both grains from India, as per the sources.
India, the world’s largest rice exporter, has also attracted good demand for the rice from the international market as supply chain remained uninterrupted during pandemic in the country after the government exempted farm activities from restrictions of the lockdown, said A K Gupta, former Director of Basmati Export Development Foundation (BEDF) under Agricultural and Processed Food Products Exports Development Authority (APEDA).
Some of the major producing countries were not at position to supply their produce during Covid-19 pandemic, which turned favourable for India which not only provided free food to the poor and but also supplied its foodgrains to the other countries, he said.
Gupta said this credit goes to the farmers who produced a record quantitiy of foodgrain at the unprecented time of Covid-19.
As per the second advance estimates released by the Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, recently, India is to harvest 303.34 million tonnes of foodgrains 2020-21, hitting a fresh record for the fifth consecutive year.
Certainly, this is the result of the hard work of the farmers and contribution the of the agricultural scientists of the country but this could not be possible if monsoon did not remain favourable.
Monsoon has been favorable for past few years for agriculture and the farmers of the country indeed got the benefit of the good and favourable weather conditions, said Mrutyunjay Mohapatra Director General, India Meteorological Department (IMD).
India witnessed deficient rainfall in two consecutive years of 2014-15 and 2015-16 by 12 percent and 14 percent respectively but afterward, monsoon remained favourable.