New Delhi: Taking advantage of the geographical proximity, an Indian company has contracted to buy 14,000 tonnes of wheat from a Pakistan trading firm.
“A contract has been agreed for shipping 700 containers of 20 tonnes each of wheat from Karachi to Mumbai and Chennai,” a senior offical of a Mumbai based firm told.
While the wheat consignments to Mumbai would cost $225 per tonne, those meant for Chennai would come at a price of $230-235 per tonne, the official said.
According to Commerce Ministry Officials there would be no problems in import of wheat from Pakistan as India has provided ‘Most Favoured Nation Status´ to the neighbouring country.
The contract comes following estimates of a bumper wheat crop in Pakistan due to which Islamabad decided to lift ban on exports of the foodgrain.
The two-and-a-half-year ban on wheat imports was imposed by Islamabad in the middle of 2004 and was lifted in January this year.
The wheat consignment to India is expected shortly, the official said, adding that the Indian company was awaiting fumigation clearance.“The clearing agents have assured to clear the shipments at the earliest”, the official said.This is the first wheat import contract in the new rabi season.
As for the pending wheat arrivals from contracts entered by Indian companies last fiscal, as much as 2 lakh tonnes of the foodgrain is yet to be cleared from various ports in the country.
In Tuticorin port alone, as much as 75,000 tonnes of wheat are stuck, the official said, adding some consignments were also lying in the Mumbai port. As far as wheat imports for PDS and other social welfare schemes are concerned, the government has already asked STC to gear up for importing 3 million tonnes if the situation so warranted.
However, high wheat output estimates this year have raised hopes of substantial improvement in its procurement with experts forecasting official purchases of about 140 lakh tonnes.Government, on the other hand, is confident of lifting the targeted 151 lakh tonnes during 2007-08 marketing season.
Even though procurement is expected to be around 140 lakh tonnes, still the stocks with FCI would not be enough as domestic consumption is going to increase, All India Grain Exporters Association President D P Singh said.
He felt the government might need to import about two million tonnes this year for meeting the requirement of PDS and other social welfare schemes.