India has asked traders, major retailers and food processors to declare wheat stocks every Friday from April to prevent hoarding and price spikes, the government said on Friday.

The world's second-biggest wheat consumer after China has been trying to contain wheat prices after heat waves curtailed production for two straight years, forcing the government to sell record volumes to boost domestic supplies.

India had imposed a limit on how much wheat stock traders could hold to moderate prices. However, the limit is set to expire on March 31st and after that, traders must declare their wheat stocks, the government said in a statement.

The measure is aimed to ""manage overall food security and prevent hoarding and unscrupulous speculation," it added.

The government is keen to replenish stocks by increasing wheat procurement this year and to do this effectively, they want to monitor private buying, said a trader.

"If needed, the government can again impose the stock limit to facilitate procurement," he added. He declined to be named as the was not authorised to speak to the media.

Wheat inventories held in government warehouses dropped to 9.7 million metric tons at the start of this month, the lowest since 2017.

In 2023, the government bought 26.2 million tons of wheat from local farmers, compared to its target of 34.15 million tons. (Reporting by Rajendra Jadhav; editing by Miral Fahmy)