April 26, 2006


India's first cargo of imported wheat in six years arrives



India's first consignment of imported wheat in over six years arrived at Chennai port Tuesday (Apr 25), a senior official at the State Trade Corp of India (STC) said.


"The first cargo of Australian wheat carrying a little over 50,000 tonnes has arrived in the southern port of Chennai," the official said.


The cargo will be inspected at port by officials from the Plant Protection and Quarantine Department and the Ministry of Health. If it meets India's quality standards, it will be discharged from the port, the official said.


According to the tender for import, the tolerance limit for hydrogen phosphide in the imported wheat has been set at nil. In addition, the wheat must also be from the current 2005/06 crop harvest.


The maximum moisture content has been set at 12 percent, the tender document said, and the minimum protein content on a dry weight basis should be 10 percent.


India has also set limits for insecticides and pesticides. Wheat imports should be free of 32 types of poisonous weed seeds.


The next cargo is expected to arrive in Tuticorin by May 2.


The overall schedule has been delayed slightly as delivery depends on the availability of ships, the STC official said.


Earlier, it was expected the cargoes would start arriving from the end of March or early April.


"We are not in a hurry to seek deliveries because the imported wheat is only meant to augment buffer stocks and not meet immediate local demand but quality should be in line with the norms laid down by us," he said.


The consignments are to arrive through five southern Indian ports--Mangalore, Chennai, Tuticorin, Visakhapatnam and Cochin by mid-May.


According to the tender, between 250,000 and 300,000 tonnes of wheat are contracted to arrive by the end of April. However, this now seems unlikely.


STC is the nodal agency that has imported wheat on behalf of the government and it has contracted a purchase of 500,000 tonnes from Australia's AWB Ltd at US$178.75 a tonne, on cost and freight basis.


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