NEW DEHLI, INDIA — India’s wheat harvest is expected to be the second highest in the 2021-22 marketing year following four consecutive record harvests in the previous years, according to a Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN) report from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Despite the USDA lowering its initial forecast, India is anticipated to record its second-highest wheat harvest of 105 million tonnes in the 2021-22 marketing year. The early reports of lower yields led the USDA to decrease its expected wheat production estimate for the country.

Currently, India is being affected by a second wave of COVID-19 outbreaks. In response, the government has decided to supply free food grains, wheat and rice, to curb potential economic hardships. The USDA noted the wheat and rice is expected to be distributed to about 62% of the population through May and June 2021 and about 8 million tonnes of grains will be needed to meet this goal.

The USDA estimate for India’s rice production remains unchanged in the 2021-22 marketing year of 118 million tonnes. Strong demand has pushed India’s rice exports since the beginning of 2020, but traders have become concerned about a possible supply disruption as the second wave of COVID-19 takes its toll on the country and possibly cause health-related labor shortages. Assuming there are no major changes to international prices or global demand the USDA expects the country’s rice exports in the 2020-21 marketing year to be 15.5 million tonnes.