Egypt approves India as wheat supplier: Goyal

New Delhi: Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal on Friday said Egypt, which is one of the largest importers of wheat from Ukraine and Russia, has approved India as a wheat supplier.

There is a sharp decline in availability of wheat in the global markets due to the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Both the nations are major producers and exporters of wheat.

Egypt imported wheat worth about USD 1.8 billion from Russia and USD 610.8 million from Ukraine in 2020.

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The African nation is looking to import 1 million tonne of wheat from India and would need 2,40,000 tonne in April.

Indian farmers are feeding the world. Egypt approves India as a wheat supplier. Modi Govt. steps in as the world looks for reliable alternate sources for steady food supply. Our farmers have ensured our granaries overflow and we are ready to serve the world, Goyal said in a tweet.

India’s wheat exports increased to USD 1.74 billion in April-January 2021-22 as against USD 340.17 million in the same period last year.

In 2019-20, wheat exports were worth USD 61.84 million, which rose to USD 549.67 million in 2020-21.

India’s wheat exports are mainly to neighbouring countries with Bangladesh having the largest share of more than 54 percent in both volume and value terms in 2020-21. It has entered new wheat markets such as Yemen, Afghanistan, Qatar and Indonesia.

The top ten countries importing Indian wheat in 2020-21 were Bangladesh, Nepal, the United Arab Emirates, Sri Lanka, Yemen, Afghanistan, Qatar, Indonesia, Oman and Malaysia.

India accounts for less than 1 percent of the world’s wheat export. However, its share has increased from 0.14 percent in 2016 to 0.54 percent in 2020. India is the second largest producer of wheat with a share of around 14.14 percent of the world’s total production in 2020.

India produces around 107.59 million tonne of wheat annually while a major chunk of it goes towards domestic consumption.

Major wheat growing states in India are Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar and Gujarat.

The commerce ministry, in a statement, said the Egyptian authorities have put India as one of the origins for this strategic commodity.

Agriculture quarantine and pest risk analysis officials from Egypt visited various processing units, port facilities and farms in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Punjab.

The Egyptian delegation’s visit to India follows several trade talks and meetings with various wheat importing countries, which are exploring possibilities of sourcing grain from alternate sources as supplies have been disrupted because of the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

During his visit to Dubai last month, Goyal had also met Egypt’s Minister of Planning and Economic Development Hala El-Said and discussed India’s readiness to supply high-quality wheat towards ensuring Egypt’s food security.

Egypt imported 6.1 million tonnes (MT) of wheat in 2021 and India was not part of the list of accredited countries which can export wheat to the African nation.

More than 80 per cent of Egypt’s wheat imports, estimated to be close to USD 2 billion in 2021, were from Russia and Ukraine.

“We are aiming to export 3 million tonnes of wheat to Egypt this year,” Angamuthu, chairman, Agricultural and Processed Food Products Exports Development Authority (APEDA), said.

APEDA had earlier communicated to India’s exporters to register with Egypt’s public procurement agency — General Authority of Supplies and Commodities, which manages wheat and sugar imports of the north African country.

APEDA will be sending trade delegations to Morocco, Tunisia, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Turkey, Algeria and Lebanon for exploring possibilities of boosting wheat exports from India.

“India has set a target of a record 10 million tonnes of wheat (export) in the 2022-23 amid rising global demand for the grain because of the Russia-Ukraine conflict,” it said.

According to estimates by the Directorate General of Foreign Trade, India has exported a record 7 MT of wheat in 2021-22, valued at USD 2.05 billion.

Growth in wheat exports was driven mostly by the demand from countries such as Bangladesh, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Sri Lanka, Oman and Malaysia.

India had been a relatively marginal player in global wheat trade until 2020-21. India could export only about 0.2 MT and 2 MT of wheat in 2019-20 and 2020-21, respectively.

The commerce ministry has set up a task force on wheat exports with representatives from various ministries, including commerce, shipping and railways, and exporters under the aegis of APEDA.

Andhra Pradesh Maritime Board, which operates the Kakinada anchorage port, mostly used for rice exports, has communicated that their facility could be used for wheat exports.

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