India has received requests for the supply of more than 1.5 million tonnes of wheat from several countries that need the staple to overcome shortages triggered by the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, trade and government sources said on Monday.
"More than half a dozen countries have approached India for more than 1.5 million tonnes of wheat and we will see how to go about these requests,” said a government official who didn’t wish to be identified in line with official rules.
"India is keen to help vulnerable countries and anyone who needs wheat," said the official involved in decision making.
The bulk of the request has come from Bangladesh, a regular buyer of Indian wheat, the sources said. India, which has banned private wheat exports, is open to specific requests for grain from foreign governments.
For Bangladesh, Indian wheat is at least 30 percent cheaper than supplies from other origins, and it takes just about a week for Indian cargoes to reach there, said the chief of the Indian unit of a global trading firm. He didn’t wish to be identified as he’s not authorised to talk to the media.
Bangladesh recently floated a wheat import tender but Dhaka cancelled it later due to high priced bids.
Bangladesh imported a record 4 million tonnes of wheat from India in the fiscal year to March 2022 against 1.2 million tonnes bought a year earlier.
Other than Bangladesh, Egypt, the world’s biggest wheat importer, has also requested the supply of 500,000 tonnes of the grain through diplomatic channels, they said.
Jamaica and a few Asian countries are among other buyers looking for wheat from India, they said.
Bangladesh needs a lot of wheat and India might not be able to fulfil the entire requirement, said another dealer with a global trading firm.
India has also received requests for wheat from the United Nations’ World Food Programme for the supply of the grain to countries such as Uganda and Ethiopia.