India seeks clear norms from Iran for wheat export
India hoped to export 3 million tonne of wheat to Iran this year, but no transaction has taken place as Iran is unsure about the quality of Indian wheat.
"We have said that Iran should specify quality standards that are linked to international ones for the wheat that they want to import and we will identify the exportable wheat accordingly. We do not want any more confusion on the issue," a government official told ET.
The country had hoped to export up to 3 million tonne of wheat to Iran this year, but no transaction has taken place yet as Iran is still not sure about the quality of Indian wheat.
In a recent meeting, Delhi asked Tehran to specify the standards so that it can assess the quality of its wheat and offer it for export only if the standards are met.
Commerce secretary SR Rao led the Indian team at the meeting while the Iranian delegation was led by deputy minister of trade and industry A Ghobadi.
India and Iran have had several rounds of discussions on quality issues since early this year and India has done its bit in assuring Iran that the wheat that is on offer is free of the fungal disease 'Karnal Bunt' that Iran is apprehensive about.
Karnal Bunt, which was first reported in Karnal, Haryana, in 1931, is not harmful to humans. However, since the variety is not found in Iran at all, the country is apprehensive of importing wheat infested with the disease fearing that it may contaminate its soil and affect other plants.
"Once Iran lays down standards and we have identified our stock accordingly, Iranian food inspectors could come for pre-despatch inspection. There would be no room for any confusion then," the official added.
India, which lifted a four-year ban on wheat exports in September last year, is keen to export to countries including Iran as the Food Corporation of India's grain bins are overflowing and space needs to be created for the summer harvest. The government is holding stocks of 42 million tonne, which is three times the buffer norm.
Iran, which is facing economic sanctions from the US and the EU for its nuclear programme, is interested in increasing imports from India so that the rupee payment mechanism put in place by the two countries is implemented better.