Owing to lower priced global offerings, poor domestic crop and quality issues, India may export less than a million tonnes of corn in the year to September, down from 2.3 million tonnes last year, a top trade official said.
“Corn exports could be less than a million tonnes. Our prices are higher than the competitors, our crop size was also smaller which impacted our exports,” said Amit Sachdev, India representative of the US Grains Council.
Sachdev said India exported 2.3 million tonnes of the grain in the year ending September 2009. The export year began on a negative note with quality issues resulting in rejection of large consignments.
India generally sells around two-three million tonnes of corn a year out of a global trade of around 80 million tonnes, and is an important supplier for Asian buyers seeking prompt shipment.
The Indian advantage was further diminished by lower priced offerings from the US and South America.
Indian delivery prices to China and Southeast Asia have been consistently higher by 10-15 per cent over the US delivery in the current marketing year, three traders said.
“Indian domestic prices were higher and so were export offerings...but the good thing is the farmers benefited,” Sachdev said. Indian prices ruled above 8,400 a tonne, the government intervention price for 2009-10, which was mostly higher than the US free-on-board prices. The country recently increased the intervention prices by about five per cent.
“India’s domestic demand remained good and there was a major drop in output, so local stocks had to be maintained and that affected exports,” said Poonam Chand Gupta, a large corn trader in Nizamabad, a major trading centre.
India’s corn output in the crop year ending May 2009 fell about three million tonnes to 16.32 million tonnes, hit by the worst monsoon in nearly four decades. India consumes about 17 million tonnes of the grain annually.
The recent government move to increase intervention prices may support planting sentiment to some extent, Sachdev said.
“But the progress of the monsoon is the major deciding factor for the acreage size,” he added.
India’s monsoon rain, vital for the farm-dependent economy, has covered half the country and is three days behind schedule, but the delay was not a cause for concern yet, weather officials said on Friday.
India cultivated corn in 8.88 million hectares in the 2009-10 crop year, about six per cent higher than the previous year. Corn is cultivated during both kharif and rabi (winter) seasons. Kharif accounts for about 85 per cent of the acreage.