New Delhi: The government may allow wheat and rice exports when its godowns are overflowing with foodgrains amid bumper crop this year, according to a source.

An empowered group of ministers headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee will take a decision in this regard in the next two weeks.

Even though food inflation remains above the comfort level of 4-5 per cent, prices of wheat and rice have remained generally stable in the last one year.

Besides, the state assembly elections are also out of the way for the government to take a call, especially when the move for opening wheat exports is supported by the Ministries of Agriculture and Commerce.

Since the Food and Consumer Affairs Ministry still has reservations on inflationary concerns, the exports window may initially be opened with quantitative restrictions.

"EGoM is expected to meet soon on the issue," sources said.

The Agriculture Ministry has been supporting the proposal for permitting exports in the wake of bumper production.

According to official estimates, output would touch a record 84 million tonnes.

The Agriculture Ministry had recently pegged wheat production of the country, the world's second largest producer, at a record 81.47 million tonnes in 2010-11 crop year (July-June) against 80.71 million tonnes in the previous year.

Rice output is estimated to rise to 94 million tonnes this year from 89 million tonnes.

Food Corporation of India has 42 million tonnes of wheat and rice in its godowns against the buffer norm of 21 million tonnes as on April 1.

Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar favours wheat exports to cash in on high prices and short supply in global markets. There have been reports that China's wheat crop might decline due to drought conditions.

 

(Agencies)