Fci Plans To Buy Export-Quality Wheat This Year

For the first time in 45 years since its inception, the Food Corporation of India will focus on procuring export-quality wheat. The state agency plans to purchase superior grades from farmers in Madhya Pradesh and tender them for sales overseas.

FCI may also explore procurement from Punjab, Gujarat and Rajasthan in the coming months.

The initial tender for export is expected to be floated soon by staterun companies such as MMTCBSE 0.85 %, State Trading CorporationBSE 0.95 % and PEC, officials said. "We will be floating a tender by the second week of April for the export of high-protein wheat from Madhya Pradesh from the new crop," said Amar Singh, chairman and managing director, FCI.

Branded as Indian premium wheat, it will have a higher protein content at 12.5% compared to the current Indian standard of 11.5%. Gluten content will be higher by 7% at 28% compared to normal grains, said an official.

Gluten makes the grain suitable for milling and making bread. Wheat procurement from Madhya Pradesh is expected to begin in a day or two by FCI and state government agencies after which samples will be sent to the Directorate of Wheat Research, Karnal, to find the source of quality grains.

Importers have been demanding cleaner and fuller grains. On a trial basis, FCI has started cleaning grains being shipped from the Mundra portBSE -0.54 % in Gujarat.

FCI officials say grains sourced from the western parts of Madhya Pradesh like Indore, Ujjain and Bhopal followed by the Malwa belt of Punjab and the Saurashtra region of Gujarat are of superior quality. In the global market, prices have remained bearish. On CBOT, the May futures were being quoted at $255-$256 a tonne. In the spot market, soft red winter wheat was quoted at $290 a tonne FOB US ports.

Globally, different varieties of wheat are sold. Australia has six grades catering to Japanese style ramen noodles, European pan breads and Chinese yellow alkaline noodles. The US has five grades catering to the export market.

As on date, FCI has contracted 31. 80 lakh tonne wheat and shipped 25 lakh tonne. In March,it has shipped 4 lakh tonne. South Korea followed by Bangladesh, Ethopia and Yemen import Indian wheat. The government may explore selling wheat to Egypt and Sri Lanka, in the coming year.

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