By Nayan Dave & Sandip Das
Four out of five ships which were stranded at Kandla port with more than 0.26 million tonne (MT) of wheat since India imposed a shipment ban on May 13 have been allowed to depart to respective destinations.
“Another ship is expected to leave Kandla port with 0.06 MT of wheat to Indonesia,” Dinesh Gupta, president of Kandla Custom Brokers’ Association, told FE.
“These ships were half-filled with wheat when the government imposed a ban on exports. Seven more ships are waiting for berthing approval,” said Gupta. He also said these ships had come for wheat shipments, but now they are willing to take other available commodities from Kandla and Mundra ports.
Sources said there is around 1 MT of wheat yet to be shipped from Kandla port, as the government is trying to ascertain the exact nature of the line of credit entered into by traders for exports of wheat. Meanwhile, the traders are shifting wheat bags in warehouses in the proximity of Kandla port in anticipation of the government’s approval for exports.
Close to 250 traders from Madhya Pradesh are at Kandla to find solutions related to piles of wheat stock stranded near the port.
Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan March had announced a waiver of mandi fees for traders who wanted to export wheat from the state. Approximately 3,000 trucks (with 25 to 30-tonne capacity each) carrying wheat mostly from Madhya Pradesh are still waiting to be unloaded at Kandla port.
Traders have started to contract flour millers to dispose of some of the quantity from the port area.
Gopal Singala, former president, APMC, Gondal, Rajkot district, said that prices of wheat in the local mandis have dropped `200-300 per quintal from around `2,450 a quintal before the imposition of the wheat export ban. “We are not going to buy wheat stranded at Kandla as the stocks belong to traders and not the farmers,” said Singala.
The export ban has come at a time when traders have received orders for 4.5 MT and were looking at more deals in the short term, in keeping with an export target of 10 MT set by the government.
Sources said India could still export about 3.5-4 MT of wheat despite the ban on shipment.
The global wheat market is very volatile at present and prices remain elevated, owing to the shortage caused by the Russia-Ukraine war.
The export ban won’t apply to two kinds of shipments — exports committed by the Indian government under a bilateral understanding with a few countries to meet their food security needs and shipments under transitional arrangements, where irrevocable letters of credit have been issued before the ban.