NEW DELHI, INDIA — India is expected to produce a record 305.4 million tonnes of grain in 2020-21, an increase of 8 million tonnes from last year’s record harvest, according to a report from the Foreign Agricultural Service of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Higher production is being driven by record production of rice, wheat, corn and pulses.

For 2021-22, rice production at 121 million tonnes is not expected to change, despite concerns about the prolonged lull in the monsoon’s rains.

Rice exports for 2020-21 are estimated at 19 million tonnes. With forecasts for tight domestic supplies and more normal price parity, exports are estimated down in 2021-22 to 15.5 million tonnes.

Wheat production in 2021-22 is estimated between 98 million to 105 million tonnes, lower than the 2020-21 record of 107.9 million tonnes.

“The lower production figure is being attributed to heat stress at the time of harvest in the partially irrigated wheat growing states,” the USDA said.

Government wheat stocks have ballooned on back-to-back record harvest, the USDA said. Stocks are estimated at 60.3 million tonnes as of June 1.

“Market sources report that 15 million to 18 million tonnes of the wheat stocks are being stored in the open, on wooden pallets minimally covered with plastic sheeting,” the USDA said. “The government faces tremendous pressure to liquidate excess wheat stocks to minimize losses and create storage space for the MY 2021-22 rice harvest.”

The government is releasing 2.2 million tonnes of wheat monthly under food security programs. In addition, a COVID-19 relief program will draw down stocks by 8 million tonnes.

The USDA said sources report the government plans to offload 7.5 million tonnes to private millers and it may announce another cost-free food grain release.

“This should help bring stocks down to a more manageable level of 27 million to 28 million tonnes by the end of 2021-22,” the USDA said.