Indian flour mills have contracted to import 3 lakh tonnes of wheat from Australia and France for shipment in July-September in view of likely shortfall in domestic output because of severe drought.
Last year too, private flour millers had purchased about 5 lakh tonnes of wheat from Australia for the first time in a decade in due to sluggish supply of domestic high protein wheat and lower international prices.
“I know deals have taken place for import of wheat. Traders have contracted 3,00,000 tonnes of wheat from Australia and France and the shipments will reach here between July and September,” Roller Flour Millers’ Federation of India Ex-President M K Datta Raj told PTI.
Wheat imports are being undertaken due to low global prices and also local traders are expecting a shortfall in the domestic output because of drought, he said.
Local traders feel that the government’s wheat production estimate is on the higher side and there would be a shortfall of at least 4-5 million tonnes due to drought impact, he added.
Even the government’s wheat purchase has not picked up much and has been at 22.8 million tonnes so far, against the target of 30.5 million tonnes set for this year.
As on April 1, the state-owned FCI had a wheat stock of 30 million tonnes, much higher than the actual requirement of 7.46 million tonnes.
Despite drought in over ten states, wheat production has been pegged at 94.04 million tonnes for the 2015-16 crop year (July-June), when compared to 86.53 million tonnes in the previous year, according the Agriculture Ministry’s third advance estimate.