India to sell 6 lakh tonne wheat to Afghanistan

Written by Commodities Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: Dec 12 2008, 04:19am hrs
After deciding to sell 15,000 tonne of non-basmati rice to Nepal on a government-to-government basis, the central government is considering a request to export around 6,00,000 tonne of wheat to neighbouring Afghanistan for strategic needs on a government-to-government basis.

The agriculture ministry is considering a request from the ministry of external affairs for supply of rice to Afghanistan, sources said.

If the sale goes through, it would be the single largest government-to-government sale of foodgrains by India after wheat exports were banned in 2007 to tame rising prices.

Till now, the biggest government-to-government export of foodgrain was of 5,51,010 tonne of non-basmati rice to Bangladesh in May.

Till date around 7,31,010 tonne of foodgrains has been sold by India to various friendly countries for strategic needs as a one-time relaxation of the ban on exports.

These sales are exempted from the blanket ban on exports and are undertaken on a government-to-government basis for strategic needs. The request for such exports usually comes from the ministry of external affairs. Recently, agriculture minister Sharad Pawar said that the government plans to allocate around 2.0 million tonne of wheat from the central pool for export to friendly countries. The payments for all such transactions will have to be made by the ministry of external affairs at economic cost.

For non-basmati rice export to Nepal, the shipment could be made only through state-run trading firm State Trading Corp of India Ltd (STC), which has been asked to ensure that the export does not affect rice prices in the domestic market.

The commerce ministry has directed STC to source the exported quantity from more than one state to avoid price disturbances. The firm would buy the rice from millers with surplus stock, it said.

India is poised to produce around 83.25 million tonne of rice in the ongoing kharif marketing season, up from 82.81 million tonne last year.

Friendly affair

Agri ministry to consider request for supply of rice

Around 7,31,010 tonne of foodgrains sold

Govt to allocate 2.0 m tonne wheat to friendly countries