Despite surplus domestic stocks, imports were being made because of the damage to high-protein wheat crop following unseasonal rains and hailstorm early this year. "Now, global wheat prices have started rising due to El Nino concerns. There is also fear that the government could impose 10 per cent import duty on wheat. In this situation, I doubt if more imports could take place," Roller Flour Millers' Federation of India Ex-President M K Datta Raj told PTI.
India has lost the window of opportunity to purchase from the overseas market as the global price of Australian wheat has increased to over Rs 20,000 tonnes now, as against Rs.17,000-18,000 per tonnes last month, he said. Even at the current high rate, wheat imports would be expensive if the government imposes any import duty, he added. The Food Ministry has already proposed 10 per cent import duty on wheat to curb shipments and liquidate poor quality grains lying in the government godowns. A trader from Kochi said, "The existing not-so-comfortable situation is preventing flour millers and traders to contract more wheat from the other countries."
A representation has also been made to both Food and Commerce Ministries to reconsider the decision of imposing the import duty wheat, the trader said. High protein wheat is grown in states especially Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra. The crop quality here got damaged due to unseasonal rains. Wheat production in India, the world's second biggest grower, is estimated to have declined to 90.78 million tonnes in 2014-15, as against the record production of 95.85 million tonnes achieved during 2013-14.