* Wheat stocks at 24.2 mln T vs 27.1 mln a month ago
* India may have to cut sale price to dent stockpiles -trade
* Needs to make room for yet another bumper harvest
(Adds details, trade comment)
By Mayank Bhardwaj
NEW DELHI, April 10 India managed only a
marginal cut in bulging wheat stockpiles during March despite
efforts to step up exports, increasing pressure on the world's
No. 2 producer of the grain to find ways to boost shipments and
make room for a new harvest.
Wheat stocks in government warehouses on April 1 were 24.2
million tonnes, down nearly 11 percent from a month earlier,
government sources said on Wednesday.
India has so far refused to sell its wheat below 14,800
rupees per tonne but it may have to reduce that level as global
prices have fallen and it must clear space for another bumper
harvest arriving soon, to protect it from rodents and rain.
New Delhi uses the stocks to distribute cheap grain to its
half a billion poor people and also holds some in inventory as a
buffer for emergencies.
It has offered 4.5 million tonnes of wheat via tenders, of
which about 3.6 million have been contracted for exports. But
its two latest tenders found no takers among private exporters,
who did not wish to bid above $300 a tonne, the floor price
fixed by the government.
"There has been absolutely no response in the last couple of
tenders, which is like a slap to the export policy, which needs
to be reviewed against the backdrop of lower global prices,"
said a trader with the Indian arm of a global trading company.
New Delhi has also offered another 5 million tonnes direct
to private traders. Direct sales have failed to take off as
well, and the government is now considering reducing minimum
price levels, sources have said.
Traders believe the government will have to cut the floor
price for both exports through state-run companies via tenders
and direct sales from state warehouses to private exporters to
lure back private trading companies.
The benchmark CBOT wheat contract posted on March 28
its biggest weekly decline since June 2012. It has recovered
slightly since, but the contract settled Tuesday down 0.5
India's rice inventory on April 1 was 35.5 million tonnes,
almost unchanged from 35.8 million tonnes in the previous month,
the sources added.
The government's inventory targets in the June quarter are
12.2 million tonnes for rice and 4 million for wheat. But they
were set in 1999.
(Editing by Jo Winterbottom and Clarence Fernandez)