India to export excess wheat stocks

India has approved the export of two million tonnes of wheat from its overflowing stocks to create storage space for new crops, the government said on Wednesday.

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has decided to export the excess stock at a floor price of $228 per tonne, an official press release said.

"The decision is going to help in disposing of the excess wheat stocks... so as to make space available for the forthcoming kharif (summer) crop of paddy and then wheat crop in the rabi (winter) season," the release said.

The CCEA has also decided to set up an expert committee to look into the modalities of export and other operational issues.

India, one of the world's largest wheat producers as well as one of its biggest users, banned wheat exports in early 2007 to boost domestic supplies after production was hit by bad weather and to help keep prices in check.

The ban was lifted in September last year following a bumper harvest and since then about 1.3 million tonnes of wheat have been exported.

With India's grain warehouses bulging, there were reports of wheat stocks left rotting in the open due to lack of storage space or being stacked in cinema halls and schools.

The Supreme Court has in the past chastised the federal farmers' agency, the Food Corporation of India, for failing to provide proper storage facilities for grains.

It was "a crime to waste even a grain of food" in a country "where people are starving", the court had said.

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