Mumbai: India, the world’s second-biggest wheat consumer, has delayed a tender to buy one million tonnes (mt) of the grain amid speculation that the government may be waiting to gauge the size of its purchases from domestic farmers.
Traders will have until 21 May to submit offers for the tender, which was originally scheduled to close on 10 May, the State Trading Corp. (STC) said on its website, without giving any reason for extending the deadline. The offers must be valid till 11pm on 30 May, it said.
“The government may have delayed import plans to get a clear picture on its procurement,” Akshita Bhatt, an analyst at Kotak Commodity Services Ltd said. “The tender in the middle of harvest itself was to put pressure on farmers to sell to the government.”
Wheat purchases from local farmers fell 5% to 8.55mt of 4 May from a year earlier, according to the government. The government plans to buy 15.15mt of wheat this year, up from 9.23mt last year, junior food minister Akhilesh Prasad Singh said on 2 March. India is forecast to produce 73.7mt of wheat this year compared with 69.35mt a year earlier.
STC wants any wheat purchased at the tender to be delivered in lots of 25,000 tonnes, 50,000 tonnes and 75,000 tonnes between June and 15 August. The firm earlier wanted supplies between May and July. India bought 6.5mt of wheat overseas last year, the first time it imported wheat in seven years.