Production the world’s second largest producer and consumer fell 10% year on year in 2015/16 to 86.5m tonnes, due to damage caused by unseasonal heavy rain and hail storms. These happened across major growing areas and coincided with the critical flowering and grain filling stages.
As a result, beginning stocks for the current 2016/17 season are down 16% year on year at 4.5m tonnes, according to MIntec, a commodities analyst.
Although production is expected to increase slightly this season—perhaps up by 1% at 87m tonnes—it will remain below the five-year average.
Moreover domestic consumption, which increased by 10% last year at 96.8m tonnes, is seeing India shift from a net exporter to a net importer.
Last year, the government eliminated the 10% import duty on wheat, effective from December 2016, in a bid to improve supplies. So far, India has mainly been importing wheat from Ukraine and Australia.
With wheat imports forecast to reach 3.7m tonnes this year, nearly eight times higher than the previous season, this will represent the highest level in a decade.