Egypt in talks with India on wheat export ban exemption

North African country has been working to diversify its purchases, holding talks with France, Argentina and the US

A farmer carries a bundle of wheat in the Nile Delta province. Egypt is trying to increase its domestic wheat production as the war in Ukraine has strained international supplies of the grain. AP

Egypt is in talks with Indian officials about getting an exemption from India's decision to ban wheat exports.

"There are talks between India and Egypt on the highest levels to be part of the exemptions of this decision," Egypt's plant quarantine head Ahmed El Attar told Reuters.

"There's constant communication with our ambassador in New Delhi."

India banned wheat exports on Saturday days after saying it was aiming for record shipments this year, as a scorching heatwave curtailed output and domestic prices hit a record high.

The government said it would still allow exports backed by already issued letters of credit and to countries that request supplies "to meet their food security needs".

In April, Egypt's agriculture ministry announced it had approved India as a source of wheat supplies as the North African country seeks to supplant purchases disrupted by Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Egypt has been working to diversify its purchases, holding talks with France, Argentina and the US. Mr El Attar said earlier on Sunday that Egypt is also considering importing wheat from Pakistan and Mexico.

Last week, a plant quarantine delegation headed by Mr El Attar travelled to India to inspect the first Indian wheat shipment headed to Egypt. The shipment was purchased by Egypt’s private sector.

More than 45,000 tonnes out of 63,000 tonnes were already loaded on the ship before the export ban was announced, Mr El Attar said.

Egypt's agriculture ministry said the shipment had passed the inspection process, with Mr El Attar adding it had the highest protein levels compared with any other origin.

Updated: May 15, 2022, 5:05 AM