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Business News/ Economy / Quality matters in India’s drive to fill global wheat export gap

India wants to fill the global wheat export gap left by the war in Ukraine, which means the quality of its grain will matter more than ever.

Indian wheat has become competitive for the first time in years after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine upended the global grains trade, sparking a scramble for alternatives. The world’s second-biggest grower recently won approval from top buyer Egypt as an origin for wheat imports, and is eyeing record exports of up to 15 million tons this year.

All this means is that it has to confront the challenges that had stymied exports before. Quality issues have prompted some buyers to be cautious of Indian wheat because of impurities in the grain. Quality determines whether the grain is suitable for making food like bread and noodles, or for animal feed.

Egypt has imposed its own quality controls. It requires importers to submit a request for inspection of Indian wheat before shipment, according to Ahmed El Attar, head of the Egyptian Agricultural Quarantine.

Grains have to undergo cleaning to separate impurities like dust, sand and stones. In India, that process is generally done manually. Cases of Karnal bunt disease -- which reduces flour quality and makes the grain unsuitable for human consumption -- as well as the overuse of pesticides in some regions also dimmed the appeal of Indian wheat in the past.

These are issues India will have to work through if it wants to become a major wheat supplier to the world. The government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has emphasized the country’s readiness to export top quality wheat to Egypt.

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.

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Updated: 19 Apr 2022, 02:09 PM IST
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