WASHINGTON, DC, US — India is heading toward a fourth record wheat harvest and near-record rice production for 2020-21, according to a report from the Foreign Agricultural Service of the US Department of Agriculture.

Wheat production is forecast at 105 million tonnes while rice is estimated at 117 million tonnes.

Soil moisture, low temperatures and well-distributed rainfall during the growth stage supported higher planting and productivity prospects, the USDA said.

Wheat production the last four years has been above trends due to development and expansion of area planted to new, higher yielding varieties and generally favorable weather conditions.

After stagnant consumption, India’s wheat consumption is forecast to increase in 2020-21 to 93 million tonnes due to excess domestic supplies. Wheat use for feed and residual is estimated at 6.5 million tonnes, which compared with 6 million tonnes the previous year, the USDA said.

The record harvests and government procurements inflated wheat stocks to more than three times the desired levels. Assuming normal offtake in March, ending stocks for 2019-20 are estimated at 24 million tonnes, more than 7 million tonnes higher than last year and more than three times that of the minimum buffer stock of 7.5 million tonnes.

Good weather also supported rice production, leading to a forecast of 117 million tonnes for 2020-21 with a trend yield of 4 tonnes per hectare for rough rice.

Like wheat production, rice production has been above the trend line due to increased yields. In the last decade, the USDA said planted rice acreage has plateaued due to increasing demand for land from urbanization and higher value crops.

“Nevertheless, production has grown steadily in recent years from increasing yields due to new and improved varieties, better agronomic practices, and expansion of irrigation facilities,” the USDA said. “However, India’s overall rice yields are still well below the world average, with wide variations in productivity among the major producing states and across the country. Analysts suggest that there is further room for increasing rice productivity in the country by expanding irrigation facilities and further improving the development and adoption of newer varieties and technology.”

Rice consumption in 2019-20 is estimated at 102 million tonnes, an increase of 3%. Consumption is expected to increase further in 2020-21 to 108 million tonnes with the government pushing more subsidized rice, the USDA said.

Rice exports in 2020-21 are forecast to recover to 12 million tonnes on higher exportable supplies.