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Home / Industry / Agriculture /  Egypt takes Indian wheat consignment Turkey rejected

NEW DELHI : The durum wheat consignment that Turkey rejected has been diverted to Egypt, which is facing bread shortages after supplies from Russia and Ukraine dried up in the wake of the war, people aware of the development said.

Egypt, one of the largest wheat importers, is scrambling to secure new supplies from other countries, including India, to cool rising prices. The 56,000-tonne consignment to Turkey was cleared before India announced the wheat export ban on 13 May.

Food secretary Sudhanshu Pandey on Thursday said the consignment had met quarantine requirements when it left India. He said Turkish officials are yet to reach out to Delhi on why the wheat shipment was rejected. “The shipment belonged to ITC Ltd, and I am told that the financial transaction has also been completed. The company had sold it to a foreign-based company, which further sold it to a Turkey-based firm," Pandey said.

S&P Global Commodity Insights cited traders based in Istanbul as saying that Turkey rejected the wheat consignment after they detected the rubella virus.

“The company (ITC) had exported to a Netherlands customer on FOB terms (free on board), and the cargo was loaded after being checked and cleared by both the buyer nominated surveyors as well as by the plant quarantine authorities," a spokesperson for ITC said.

The embassies of Turkey and Egypt did not immediately respond to emails seeking comment.

On Thursday, government officials said as many as five countries have formally requested Indian wheat after the ban. The government said it would allow wheat exports on a government-to-government basis.

Exporters aware of the development said the transit time to Turkey is about two weeks, and variation in temperatures and humidity might have led to phytosanitary issues.

However, an expert said it’s unlikely the cause for the infection. “Rubella develops because of seed or soil contamination. Such issues should have been detected before shipments. It looks like a case of negligence," an expert from a non-profit research institute said.

Experts expressed concerns over repeated complaints of phytosanitary issues for Indian shipments. Earlier this year, Indonesia suspended Indian agricultural exports after finding quality issues. In addition, India failed to register laboratories that test food safety and issue a certificate of analysis.

The expert cited above said such incidents reflect badly on the country and is because of poor quality control measures taken by Indian authorities.

“The ministry should address such issues. Such issues are not spotted as testing labs in India are not up to the mark. Now checks by other countries would rise," he added.

Queries sent to the ministry of commerce and industry on Thursday morning remained unanswered till press time.

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