NEW DELHI – A delegation from Egypt will visit India in the first week of April to facilitate wheat imports as part of efforts to secure supplies and tide over shortages at one of the world’s biggest importers of the staple, Indian government sources said.
Egypt, often the world’s biggest wheat importer, is reeling from a surge in bread and flour prices after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine closed off access to lower-priced Black Sea wheat.
India, the world’s second biggest wheat producer, has emerged as a leading supplier of the grain to a host of countries that are struggling with cargo disruptions and sky-high grain prices in the wake of the crisis in the Black Sea region.
Although Egypt has been a traditional buyer of Russian and Ukrainian wheat, India is willing to help Cairo by supplying the grain, said the sources, who didn’t wish to be identified in line with official rules.
Egypt could buy up to 12 million tonnes of Indian wheat, they said.
The Egyptian delegation would meet potential Indian buyers, examine logistical and other issues and assess various grades and quality of Indian wheat, the sources said.
“India is in a position to supply top quality wheat to Egypt and meet Egypt’s quality and other requirements,” said one of the sources.
On Tuesday, Piyush Goyal, India’s Minister for Commerce and Industry, Consumer Affairs and Food and Public Distribution said he met Hala Elsaid, Egypt’s Minister for Planning and Economic Development in Dubai and discussed New Delhi’s “readiness to supply high-quality wheat” to Cairo.
One of India’s state-run export promotion bodies would assist the Egyptian delegation, the sources said.
On Monday, Egypt’s Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly said Cairo was counting on France to secure some supplies of basic commodities like wheat.
On March 24, Egyptian Supply Minister Ali Moselhy said Egypt is in talks with Argentina, India, France and the United States for future wheat imports but is in no rush to buy at the moment.
He said Indian suppliers would still have to seek accreditation from state buyer the General Authority for Supply Commodities.
Earlier this month Egypt set a fixed price for unsubsidised bread to battle a sharp rise in bread prices that jumped 25% to 1.25 Egyptian pounds($0.07) per loaf in some bakeries.