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Wheat exports: Egyptian delegation to India to visit farms and facilities

An official delegation from Egypt, one of the biggest wheat importers, will visit India from Monday to explore possibilities of grain supply from India to meet domestic demand.

Agricultural quarantine and pest risk analysis officials from Egypt, which imported 6.1 million tonnes (mt) of wheat in 2021, will visit processing units, port facilities and farms in the Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Punjab during their five day tour.

Sources told FE that Egypt, which imported about 81% of its estimated nearly $2 billion wheat imports from Russia and Ukraine in 2021, has told Indian officials it wants to procure a significant quantity of wheat from India. India is not on the list of accredited countries that can export wheat to Egypt.

The Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) has required Indian wheat exporters to register with Egypt’s government procurement agency, the General Supply and Commodities Authority, which manages imports of wheat and sugar to this North African country.

Sources said that in response to a clarification from Egypt, India said ergot disease of wheat has not been reported anywhere in the country.

The Egyptian delegation’s visit to India will follow trade talks and meetings with various wheat importing countries that are exploring possibilities of sourcing grain from alternative sources as supplies have been cut off due to the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. India is aiming to export a record 10 million tonnes of wheat in 2022-23 amid rising global demand.

“We will take a trade delegation to Morocco, Tunisia, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Turkey, Algeria and Lebanon to explore opportunities to boost India’s wheat exports,” said Mr. Angamuthu, President of APEDA.

Meanwhile, Andhra Pradesh Maritime Board, which operates Kakinada anchor port which is mainly used for rice exports, has communicated that the facility could also be used for wheat exports. Currently, a large portion of India’s wheat exports come from Madhya Pradesh due to its proximity to the ports of Kandla and Mundra.

According to estimates by the Directorate General of Foreign Trade, India exported a record 7 tons of wheat in 2021-22, worth $2.05 billion. About 50% of the wheat was exported to Bangladesh in the last fiscal year.

India has been the world’s largest rice exporter over the past decade, with export earnings that stood at a record $9.6 billion in 2021-22. But the country had been a relatively marginal player in the world wheat trade until 2020-21.

APEDA, which falls under the Ministry of Commerce, has set up a wheat export task force made up of representatives from various ministries, including commerce, shipping and railways, and exporters.

Current Food Corporation of India wheat stocks are about three times the buffer standard, and ongoing rabi purchases will bolster stocks. FCI has more than 23 tonnes of wheat stocks against a buffer standard of 7 tonnes on April 1.

Government agencies are expected to purchase about 33 tons of wheat from farmers during the supply season (April-June) for the 2022-23 marketing session against a target of 44 tons due to the possibility of increased exports.