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Govt lifts ban on wheat exports

New Delhi: The government has decided to lift the over four-year-old ban on wheat exports, even as shipment of the grain is not viable at current global prices.The government had banned wheat exports since early 2007 to boost domestic supply and contain inflation.

"Yes, there is no ban. Wheat exports are allowed," Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar told reporters on the sidelines of an ICAR function here.

The government has not announced the quantity of wheat allowed for exports as global prices are very low, he said.

Recently, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee headed Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) on Food, in which Pawar is also a member, had given in-principal approval to lift the ban on wheat exports in the wake of overflowing stocks.

At present, the government godowns have bulging wheat stock of 37.8 million tonnes (MT) in view of bumper output.

Expressing doubts on viablity of wheat exports, Pawar said: "I don`t think there will be any response. The issue is whether we will be able to sell in the global market at such low international prices".

In light of excess stock and infeasibility of exports, the minister expressed concern over storage problem that could arise for the new crop to be harvested in 2011-12.

"We have stocks much more than the country`s requirement. So, my real worry is when paddy procurement starts in Andhra Pradesh and Punjab," he noted.

Wheat stored in Andhra Pradesh and Punjab cannot be moved to the central India due to paucity of space.

Although Agriculture Ministry is yet to announce the final production estimate, sources said that the country`s total wheat output has touched a record 86 MT in the 2010-11 crop year (July-June) as against 80.80 MT in the previous year.

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