31 May 2024 20:05

India plans to import 3-5 mln tonnes of wheat in 2024, counting on shipments from Russia

SIRIUS. May 31 (Interfax) - India plans to import 3-5 million tonnes of wheat in 2024, and is counting on supplies from Russia, Chairman of the Indian Association of Producers and Importers of Grains and Pulses Bimal Kothari said at the All-Russian Grain Forum on Friday in Sochi.

"We cannot rule out the possibility that 3 to 5 million tonnes of wheat will have to be imported in 2024. Russia can become a reliable supplier and trade can be conducted in rupees," Kothari said.

Annual wheat consumption in India is about 95-100 million tonnes, he said. In recent years, its reserves in state granaries have fallen. Although the country has developed heat-tolerant wheat varieties and is now seeing yield increases, it still needs to be imported.

In addition to wheat, India plans to increase its imports of chickpeas and yellow peas from Russia.

"It is estimated that production of yellow peas in India should reach about 750,000-800,000 tonnes (...) It is assumed that 3-3.5 million tonnes will be imported from December 7, 2023 [when India introduced a zero import duty on yellow peas through October 31, 2024] through October 31. The main supplier will be Russia," Kothari said.

After the introduction of the zero duty through April 30 of this year, India imported 570,000 tonnes of yellow peas from Russia, he said. Kothari considers it necessary that India and Russia sign a memorandum to facilitate the annual import from Russia of at least 500,000 tonnes of yellow peas.

In addition, the Association chairman said that chickpeas grown in Russia could become a replacement for desi chickpeas, whose production in India fell last year. "Earlier, the import duty on desi chickpeas was 66%. However, on May 3, 2024, the government permitted imports at zero duty as production had fallen the previous year. Russia could become a potential supplier of chickpeas in the current season," Kothari said.

India is importing over 4 million tonnes of pulses this year. Currently, their production in the country is about 25-26 million tonnes, while current demand is estimated at about 32-33 million tonnes, he said.