May 3, 2006


Australia's second wheat consignment arrives at Indian port


India's second consignment of imported wheat in over six years arrived at the south Indian port of Tuticorin Wednesday (May 3) from Australia, a senior government official said, amid complaints that the last shipment contained pesticides.


The country is expected to import a total of 500,000 tonnes of wheat this year due to a shortage.


State Trading Corp. Of India (STC), the agency that is importing the wheat on behalf of the government, contracted a wheat purchase from Australia's AWB at US$178.75/tonne, on cost and freight basis.


"The cargo of Australian wheat carrying around 41,000 tonnes has reached Tuticorin," the official said.


The first shipment carrying a little over 50,000 tonnes arrived last week and is currently being discharged at Chennai, another port in south India.


The new arrival of imported wheat in India is being closely tracked after port health authorities issued a complaint that the first shipment contained an amount of pesticide above permissible levels.


"The recent controversy on quality issues relating to the shipment in Chennai has been blown out of proportion and the imported wheat is fit for human consumption," the official said.


The cargo will be inspected at the port of Tuticorin 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, the tolerance limit for hydrogen phosphide, a pesticide, in imported wheat has been set at zero. In addition, the wheat must also be from the current 2005/06 crop harvest.


India also set limits for other insecticides and pesticides.


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.


Wheat imports should also be free of 32 types of poisonous weed seeds.


The overall arrival schedule for the remaining wheat imports has been delayed as delivery depends on the availability of ships, the 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 we have enough wheat to meet local demand till October," the official said.


The consignments were 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 were contracted to arrive by the end of April. However, this has not happened because there were no ships available, according to the official.


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