1.2-mn-tonne wheat import deal finalised
Despite a good wheat crop of over 72 million tonnes, the country is importing wheat this year with farmers showing reluctance to sell their produce.india Updated: Jun 02, 2006 19:05 IST
India has almost finalised deals for importing 1.2 million tonnes of wheat out of the 3.5 million tonnes planned this year to shore up buffer stocks, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar said in New Delhi on Friday.
"We have practically finalised the import of 1.2 million tonnes of wheat so far from two tenders," Pawar told the media on the sidelines of a seminar on food management.
Despite a good wheat crop of over 72 million tonnes, the country is importing wheat this year with farmers showing reluctance to sell their produce to government-nominated agencies and instead opting for better prices being offered by private buyers.
Declining to give details of the price at which the wheat would be imported, Pawar said the State Trading Corporation of India (STC) would soon be floating another tender for the remaining quantity of wheat.
India had initially bought 500,000 tonnes of wheat from Australia's AWB Ltd in March this year.
Pawar admitted that the response to the tender floated by the STC had been lower than expected, necessitating another round of tender.
The minister said there was enough buffer stock of wheat to meet the demands of the public distribution system (PDS) through which the food grain is provided to the below poverty line (BPL) people at subsidised rates.
"Though international prices (of wheat) have been falling for the last few days, we'll not hesitate to import more wheat to build our buffer stock. We'll float a new tender," Pawar said. The domestic prices were also coming down in tandem with the international trend, he added.
The government is yet to finalise plans to allow direct users like bread, biscuit and flour manufacturers to import wheat at a concessional rate of duty, Pawar said.