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India eyeing long-term pulses, wheat purchases from Russia — source

The grain import decision can be announced as early as by the end of June, the official said

NEW DELHI, May 31. /TASS/. India is seriously considering the opportunity of long-term purchases of pulse crops and wheat from Russia but no final decision has been made so far, a high-ranking official of the Indian Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare told TASS.

"India is seeking after provision of its own food security. We almost halted grain imports from other countries since 2018 to support development of local production. However, there was a poor grain harvest last year; yield forecasts are also negative for this year. Therefore, we are considering an option of buying grain from abroad, primarily in Russia," the source said on conditions of anonymity.

The possibility of authorizing grain purchases, including in Russia, was also analyzed last year. India managed to solve the poor harvest problem at that time, including by the ban on rice exports. However, the probability of having crop setback is again predicted to be high due to strong heat affecting North India.

The issue will probably be resolved after national parliamentary elections. Results are to be announced on June 4. The grain import decision can be announced as early as by the end of June, the official said.

"I believe however that if the wheat import decision is made, and the probability for that is rather high, it can be temporary by nature. India may open the country to foreign wheat until the situation with local grain normalizes," he added.

"India is at the same time already discussing with Moscow the possibility of entering into a long-term agreement on imports of pulse crops from Russia, pea and lentil in the first instance," the source noted. The Indian side hopes that such talks may lead to entering into an agreement on mutual preferences in agricultural trading, he added.