New Delhi: India is likely to buy only 300,000 tonne of wheat because of high prices quoted in a tender floated last month for 1million tonne, a senior government official said on 29 May.
The government may call for more tenders to build a strong buffer to augment supplies for the country’s wheat bins, he said. “My guess is the State Trading Corp. will buy 300,000 tonne of wheat, but the price quoted is very high,” the official, who did not wish to be identified, said.
The government-run firm last week received seven bids in the tender at between $265.50 (Rs10,729) and $296 per tonne -- about a fifth more than what India paid last year, when Indian bought 5.5 million tonne.
A.C. Toepfer of Germany and Glencore International of Switzerland are likely to get the deal to sell wheat in the latest tender as the two trading firms lowered their bids by about $2 a tonne, trade sorces said.
The government official said India aims to buy 11 million tonne wheat from domestic farmers against 9.2 million tonne purchased last year. The government is keen to buy 15 million tonne from farmers, but hopes are dashed as they stockpiled the commodity in anticipation of higher prices.
“We will buy 11 million tonne in addition to 600,000 tonne already bought by the state government of Punjab,” the government official said. India, which needs 12 million tonne wheat annually to run its public distribution system for the poor, might issue more import tenders to build strong buffer stocks, he said.
India grows only one wheat crop in a year, mainly in northern states of Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh and central state of Madhya Pradesh. Sowing starts in winter months of November and December and harvest begins in late March and early April. India is likely to produce 73.7 million tonne wheat in 2007, against 69.48 million tonne last year.