Govt set to finalise a chunk of wheat exports in two weeks

Written by Sandip Das | New Delhi | Updated: Jan 31 2014, 08:38am hrs
After getting encouraging response in the first few rounds of tenders for wheat export in the last two months, the government is set to finalise shipment of a chunk of foodgrain in two weeks.

Sources told FE that bids for export of more than 3 lakh tonne of wheat would be opened on February 3 and 12.

Against the target of 2 million tonne (mt) of exports for the current fiscal, the Food Corporation of India (FCI) has approved shipment of more than 1.4 mt of foodgrain while more than 6 lakh tonne has been already shipped to various countries. We have received an average bid of more than $280 per tonne against the base price of $260 per tonne till now and we expect similar price in our subsequent bids, an FCI official said. The official added that key export destinations for wheat have included Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, South Korea and Ethiopia.

Meanwhile, according to International Grains Council global wheat prices have started to decline, with price dropping from $285 per tonne to $280 per tonne in the last two weeks.

On February 3, the government will open the bid for export of 1 lakh tonne by state-owned trading agency PEC and 60,000 tonne by MMTC. However, tenders for 1.55 lakh tonne of exports by PEC would be opened on February 12. FCI is aiming at exporting 2 mt by the end of the fiscal from its excess stock of 28 mt reported at the start of the month.

In October last year, the government had rejected the bids for export of 1.5 lakh tonne of wheat as they were far below the then base price of $300 per tonne. Subsequently the gover-nment reduced the base price for exports to $260 per tonne.

An agriculture ministry official said that due to spread out monsoon, there is an expectation of bumper wheat crop, which will be harvested in April. Wheat procurement by FCI and state-owned agencies for the 2014-15 season will commence on April 1. Last year, due to global shortage, FCI had exported 4.5 mt of wheat and realised R7,000 crore at an average price of $310 per tonne.

Our export realisation can't match last year's level because of sharp rise in global wheat output this year, a commerce ministry official said.

Major destinations for Indian wheat last fiscal were South Korea, Ethiopia, Bangladesh, Yemen, Thailand and Indonesia. We need to liquidate wheat stock through export and Open Market Sale Scheme for private traders to create space for next year's crop, a food ministry official said.