/TASS/. India is negotiating with Russia to import a large batch of wheat to reduce its prices on the domestic market. Sources told the Economic Times.
"The government is exploring the possibility of importing wheat from Russia through private trade channels or through an intergovernmental deal. The decision will be made carefully," one of the sources said.
While India needs 3 million to 4 million metric tons of grain to cover the wheat market shortage, New Delhi may consider importing 8-9 million tons of Russian wheat to have a greater impact on price reduction, another source said.
According to Economic Times sources, the decision to buy Russian grain may be made in a few weeks. The plan of the Indian Cabinet to import wheat is seen as one of the possible measures to curb food inflation.
The last time India imported significant volumes of wheat was in 2017, purchases amounted to 5.3 million tons.
Rising wheat prices in India
Wholesale wheat prices in the country rose by about 10% to a seven-month high in August due to limited supplies. As of August 1, India's state-owned wheat reserves stood at 28.3 million tons, 20% below the 10-year average.
The increase in wheat prices was also caused by the introduction by the government this year, for the first time since 2008, of restrictions on the amount of wheat that producers and suppliers are allowed to keep in stock for wholesale and retail sales. According to the Ministry of Consumer Affairs of India, the authorities of the republic took such a step to ensure food security, stabilize prices, fight inflation and speculation.
India is one of the world leaders in the production of milk and meat, cereals and legumes. At the same time, the country is the world's largest importer of vegetable oils and is among the top buyers of beans and lentils. In 2022, the volume of agricultural imports of the republic amounted to a record $34.1 billion. Russia ranked 8th among suppliers of agricultural products.