The first Indian wheat consignment of 55,000 tonnes to Egypt has got through all government tests for quality and other parameters after anchoring at Alexandria port, official sources said today (Friday).

Discharge of the cargo, exported by Mera Group in the vessel Mana,will begin tomorrow (Saturday). The sources, quoting Neal Sahni, CEO and Co-Founder of Mera Group, said Cairo had appreciated the quality of wheat that India had sent.

“Egypt is the toughest market to sell wheat. It is also the biggest. The pleasant manner in which it has accepted the cargo is a slap on Turkey which rejected a Durum wheat consignment two weeks ago,” said Delhi-based exporter Rajesh Paharia Jain. 

The shipment of wheat to Egypt will likely open up opportunities of barter trade between both nations. “In all possibilities, India could import rock phosphate in return for the wheat shipment,” Jain said. 

Sale before ban

The wheat sale took before India banned its exports from May 13. The deal was signed soon after an Egyptian official team, including plant quarantine and pest risk department authorities, visited various facilities in India and clearedi its exports.

A report from Cairo quoted Sahni as saying his firm and Indian officials had worked hard to ship quality wheat meeting Egyptian standards. 

 In fact, India’s ban came mid-way when the ship was being loaded but since the letter of credit (LC) had already been issued there was no problem in shipping the consignments. 

India has nominated 19 more vessels that will carry another 2.3 lakh tonnes. Of these, four are currently stuck at Indian ports. 

Soon after Indian imposed ban on wheat exports Egypt said the Narendra Modi government had agreed to provide 5 lakh tonnes this year. Egypt’s General Authority for Supply Commodities (GASC) added India to its already accredited 26 wheat import origins, including Russia, Ukraine, France, Germany, Kazakhstan and the US to facilitate the shipments.

Lower production, procurement

GASC is Egypt’s official procurement agency and it has sought wheat from India to fill the void caused by the supply of the grain being affected from the Black Sea region due to the Russia-Ukraine war.  

India banned wheat exports as its production this year has been affected by the heatwave that swept across the nation during March-April. Wheat production this year has been lowered to 106 million tonnes (mt) from initial estimates of a record 111.34 mt. 

The other reasons why India banned the foodgrain’s shipments were lower procurement by the Food Corporation of India for the buffer stocks as open market prices ruled higher than the minimum support price of ₹2,015 a quintal. Prices gained in view of export demand due to the Ukraine war. 

However, India, while banning wheat exports, said it would help neighbouring and vulnerable countries with the foodgrain. 

Meanwhile, the 56,877 tonnes of Durum wheat rejected by Turkey on “flimsy grounds” has anchored at an Israeli port after Egypt refused to let in the consignment rejected by Turkey.