India to get 100,000 tonnes of wheat next week

India to get 100,000 tonnes of wheat next week

New Delhi: Two shipments, with about 100,000 tonnes of wheat contracted in July, are expected to arrive in a western Indian port next week to augment supplies, a senior government official said on Thursday.

The grain is part of 511,000 tonnes of wheat bought by the State Trading Corp against a tender.

“We expect two ships to arrive at Mundra port in Gujarat on September 17 and 18 with approximately 100,000 tonnes of wheat," the official, who did not want to be identified, said.

He said one shipment was carrying 52,000 tonnes of Iranian-origin wheat, while the other was about 48,000 tonnes of Russian-origin wheat.

Another government official said the two ships had already sailed and other vessels carrying wheat against the contract were expected to arrive at Indian ports on schedule by November.

“We are now well covered for our requirements until December and January," he said, reducing the pressure on the government to launch another import tender soon.

Asian mills are scrambling to avoid any big jump in flour prices through forward buying and substitution.

In India, flour prices have eased slightly in recent months after plentiful imports earlier this year and a good harvest.

Flour millers said there was no shortage of wheat in the market and domestic prices were stable.

The price of average quality wheat was around Rs10,000 ($247.5) per tonne against Rs9,000 at the time of the harvest in April.

Prices tend to rise by up to Rs300 per 100 kg in January when demand peaks, from May after the harvest, said Prem Gupta, president of the Roller Flour Millers Federation of India.

India’s farm ministry has estimated a wheat crop of 74.89 million tonnes in 2007, up from 69.48 million tonnes last year.

Officials say the government will have sufficient wheat stocks to meet any exigencies until the next harvest.

Wheat prices in the United States and Europe have jumped 25% in the past month on the back of erratic weather and falling stocks. On Wednesday the December contract on the Chicago Board of Trade hit a record high above $9 per bushel.

Analysts said with good stocks and imports, the government could take a breather and wait for prices to cool before stepping into the market again.

India, which is importing wheat for the second year in a row, has bought 1.3 million tonnes this year at sky-high prices to build stocks.