Pakistan likely to cancel wheat export plans

Pakistan is likely to cancel plans to export 2 million tonnes of surplus wheat in the wake of devastating floods, two food ministry officials said on Friday.

A decision not to export would add to weather-related cuts in wheat available to the international market, after Russia earlier banned exports after a drought there slashed output.

“Currently there are no talks of exporting wheat,” one ministry official, who is familiar with the discussions, told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

“The plan to export 2 million tonnes of surplus wheat is likely to be shelved.”

The second official said that the government was closely monitoring the situation and confirmed the likely cancellation of the export plans. Given the devastation of the floods, the government wants to ensure there are no shortages, especially in the flood-affected areas.

Pakistan, Asia’s third largest wheat producer, said in April it would export 2 million tonnes of wheat after a bumper crop of 23.86 million tonnes in 2009/10, and a carryover of 4.2 million tonnes from the previous crop.

But it had held back on exports because of low prices in the international market.

The floods have damaged up to 600,000 tonnes of privately-stored wheat, according to initial estimates, and a food ministry official said on Thursday that another 125,000 tonnes of wheat in government stores had been washed away.