Record Rice Harvest Will Allow India To Be Top Exporter Of The Grain For Fourth Consecutive YearA farmer manually threshes the rice crop on a drum at Suchetgarh village in Jammu, India. (Nitin Kanotra/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

The just-ended crop year (July 2017-June 2018) has seen India set a record production in rice, corn (maize), wheat and pulses like urad (black mat-pea), gram (chana). However, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) doesn’t see a record wheat production this crop year.

According to Frontline magazine datacard, the USDA has pegged India’s wheat production at 95 million tonnes (MT) compared with the Ministry of Agriculture’s estimate of 98.61 MT. Last year, wheat production was 98.5 MT.

India hence continues to be the largest rice exporter, a position it has held since 2014. For the marketing year ending September, nearly 13 MT could be shipped from the country. Bangladesh, Iran and Senegal besides the West Asian and North African markets are the primary buyers of Indian rice. India exports to these countries as it is able to provide them with par-boiled rice (the paddy is cooked, dried and then milled) with Thailand being the only other nation where this variety of rice is produced. The Indian export edge is derived from the freight advantage it holds.

For 2018-19 period, India has two challenges to surmount. One, Bangladesh has decided to make imports costly with a 28 per cent import tax. Two, India will have to see how the US sanctions on Iran will pan out. The last time around, India gained with New Delhi providing Tehran with rice against supply of crude oil.

On the other hand, corn production has been estimated by the Ministry of Agriculture at 26.88 MT but the USDA pegs it higher at 27 MT. Despite the record production, India would be importing five lakh tonnes of corn, mainly through tariff rate quota system at zero duty. Corn off-take in the country is seen higher on demand from the poultry sector that is witnessing a double-digit growth annually.

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