Is Turkish rubella virus pretending to reject Indian wheat a ploy to control global wheat supply? | India is blooming
Turkey’s attempt to disparage India’s reputation as a wheat supplier fell flat after Israel bought a 55,000-ton shipment which it rejected citing phytosanitary concerns. The grounds for rejection were not only bogus, but apparently stemming from Turkey’s covert motive to take control of the world’s wheat supply amid growing demand and a protracted war between Ukraine and Russia, according to experts.
ITC Ltd, which supplied the wheat, clarified the matter.
Rajnikant Rai, CEO of ITC’s agribusiness division, denied claims that the shipment fell below contractual quality parameters, The Print reported.
“ITC delivered contract quality and the vessel set sail in mid-May. We later learned that ETG had sold it to a Turkish buyer. At the end of May, we learned, the shipment was rejected by Turkey,” Rai said. ITC and ETG received payment for the deal, he added.
“But neither we nor ETG ever received a report on the reason for the rejection. Saying that the wheat was rejected because of the presence of the rubella virus or that it had a lower protein content than required, and that after Turkey, Egypt also rejected it, these are just rumours,” he said.
“The ship never sailed to Egypt and now it is moored in a port in Israel waiting to be unloaded,” Rai added, indicating that a new buyer had been found for the shipment.
The shipment had left India before the government ban on wheat exports on May 13.
As the price of wheat jumped sharply around the world after the Russian-Ukrainian war, the shipment could be valued in the millions.
The price of wheat on the international market is around 450 to 480 dollars per ton, according to the Ministry of Consumer Affairs.
Turkey rejected the Indian wheat consignment, saying the Indian wheat had been detected with Indian rubella and had lower protein content than the country required to accept the wheat consignment from any country.
He had launched the ships to sail again on May 29, 2022, media reported.
Egypt had refused the shipment without taking samples for testing, media reported citing an Indian official.
The Print quoted an unnamed Indian official from an international commodity trading firm as saying there could be “commercial or geopolitical reasons at play here”.
“Raising quality issues looks like an attempt to tarnish India’s reputation as a global grain supplier,” the official said.
India has been a major rice exporter, contributing 40% by volume to world rice trade. However, the current crisis has allowed India to emerge as the main supplier of wheat.
The report quoting sources says Turkey is trying to control the global wheat trade by facilitating the passage of grain stranded at the port of Odessa in Ukraine.
If a three-way dialogue between Turkey, Russia and Ukraine succeeds, wheat stuck in Ukraine can find a way to world markets, albeit in a controlled way, they said.
New Delhi-based trade analyst S. Chandrasekaran told Print that the shipment of Indian wheat infected with the rubella virus is “a myth created by Turkey.”
By rejecting Indian wheat, Turkey is trying to send a signal to the market that large supplies are coming soon and that Turkey will be in charge of the logistics.
In the process, India may be becoming a victim of powerful business lobbies and global geopolitics, The Print quoted a trade analyst as saying.