NEW DELHI: India’s farm sector imports are on a rise pushed by two back to back droughts and untimely rainfall. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been trying to revive rural India but agricultural imports are seeing an upward trend. Last week Modi held a late night meet with the farm officials to address the concerns.
For the first time in 16 years, India made purchases of corn last month. India exported 2.8 million tonnes in the fiscal year to March 2015 and now the government is likely to import 2 million tonnes of corn in 2015/16 and again in 2016/17. Domestic corn prices have shot up by about a quarter in the past six months.
Oilmeals production is falling short. After exporting 4.5 million tonnes of oilmeals to countries such as Iran, Japan, Korea and Taiwan in 2014/15, traders have clinched deals for less than a million tonnes in April-December. Oilmeal exports are not expected to cross a million tonnes in 2016/17.
Sugar stocks have been depleting on a fast pace. India might also be forced to buy sugar in the next season beginning October 1, 2016 due to lower output of sugarcane. The world’s No.2 sugar producer last imported in 2009/10, buying 4 million tonnes.
Lentils domestic produce is falling short of the demand. Imports of protein-rich lentils are expected at a record 5 million tonnes this fiscal year, with similar volumes expected next year. Wheat stocks in warehouses are depleting fast. The stocks are enough for now, but expectations of lower output this year after a poor crop in 2015 has meant a 25 per cent drawdown from state warehouses.