India to ship wheat on bilateral basis

Source: The Economic times, Jul 13, 2012

NEW DELHI: The ministry of external affairs (MEA) is exploring opportunities for exporting 10 million tonne wheat on bilateral basis.

“Twelve countries including Japan, Indonesia, Iraq, Nigeria and the Netherlands have shown interest in buying wheat from us. Diplomatic representatives of these countries have enquired about the quality, export mechanism and phyto sanitary of the food grain,” said a food ministry official on anonymity.

The overflowing granaries have allayed all concerns over the grain availability even if monsoon is deficient this season. “We are in a comfortable position as far as food grain stocks are concerned. There is no threat to export even if rains are deficient,” said Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar. Iraq needs 1 million tonne wheat, Indonesia 5.2 million tonne and Vietnam requires 1.5 million tonne to meet their domestic demand.

The food ministry is in talks with Iran for exporting up to 3 mt. The sanction-struck gulf country had stopped importing Indian wheat since 1996 over complaints of Karnal Bunt, a fungal disease.

An Iranian delegation visited India last month for checking phyto sanitary measures and quality of wheat. “Out of 100 samples collected, only 56 had Karnal Bunt. We are hopeful of import orders from Iran,” another official said.

With a record wheat production followed by an unprecedented procurement of 82 million tonne, the government is now ready to enter the export market in a big way. It had allowed 2 million tonne wheat export from FCI godowns earlier this month to cut down the stocks.

“We have never promoted food grains exports till now in view of food security. But now, we can contribute to global food security. India will be a consistent player in the market,” the official said. Due to consecutive bumper production, the grain stocks have exceeded domestic requirement prompting the government to lift grain exports ban in September 2011.


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