India imported 2.7 mn tonnes of wheat this fiscal

Last year private flour millers had imported 5 lakh tonnes of wheat from Australia.

The Dollar Business Bureau

India’s importers have imported 2.7 million tonnes of wheat from France, Australia and Ukraine till now in the current fiscal and another 1.2 million tonnes of wheat is likely to arrive by next month-end.

However, importers have not entered into any import contract for the delivery of wheat after March as they believe that the government may again levy customs duty on wheat when the harvesting of new crop begins in April 2017.

In December, the government had cut down the import duty on wheat to zero from 10% in order to boost the availability of the grain locally and to check price rise.

“About 2.7 million tonnes of wheat has been imported so far in 2016-17 from Ukraine, Australia and France. About 1.2 million tonnes of wheat will arrive by February-end,” M K Datta Raj, Ex-President, Roller Flour Millers' Federation of India told PTI.

Last month, only 3,00,000 tonnes of wheat had arrived as shipments could not make it through due to extreme cold weather in some nations, he said, while adding that the shipments are on their way from Australia.

In the previous year, for the first time in 10 years, private flour millers had imported around 5 lakh tonnes of wheat from Australia due to slower supply of local high protein grain and lower global prices.

Wheat is being purchased at a lower price compared to the domestic market. For example, Australian wheat is costing  Rs.1,740 per quintal while the delivery of wheat from Ukraine to Tuticorin is costing Rs.1,670 per quintal. However, the wheat being sold in New Delhi is as high as Rs.2,124 a quintal.

Rising imports of wheat and rise in retail prices shows a shortfall in the domestic production in the crop year 2015-16, but the Ministry of Agriculture has maintained output to be 93.50 million tonnes in spite of drought in more than 10 states.

Currently, India is consuming the wheat produced in crop year 2015-16. The next crop has been sown already and will reach the market only in the month of April. 

The Dollar Business Bureau - Jan 17, 2017 12:00 IST