New Delhi: India is likely to buy only 300,000 tonnes of wheat because of high prices quoted in a tender floated last month for one million tonnes (mt), a senior government official said on 29 May 2007.
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 tonnes 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 (Rs10,620) and $296 per tonne—about a fifth more than what India paid last year when it bought 5.5mt of wheat.
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 sources said.
The government official said India aims to buy 11mt wheat from domestic farmers against 9.2mt purchased last year.
Buffer stock: The government floated a tender for one million tonnes.
The government was keen to buy 15mt from farmers, but hopes were dashed as they stockpiled the commodity in anticipation of higher prices.
“We will buy 11mt in addition to 600,000 tonnes already bought by the state government of Punjab,” the official said.
India, which needs 12mt of wheat annually to run its public distribution system for the poor, might issue more import tenders to build strong buffer stocks, he said. The country grows only one wheat crop in a year, mainly in Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.
Sowing starts in the winter months of November and December and harvest begins in late March and early April. India is likely to produce 73.7mt wheat in 2007, against 69.48mt last year.