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African Countries Keen to Buy Small Corn Consignments from India

India's corn (maize) exports have slowed slightly in recent days, but new demand has emerged, with a few African countries scouting for the coarse cereal, according to trade sources.

Shivam Dwivedi
Ministry of Agriculture estimates kharif corn production at 34.61 million tonnes (mt), which has aided coarse cereal exports
Ministry of Agriculture estimates kharif corn production at 34.61 million tonnes (mt), which has aided coarse cereal exports

African countries, particularly in the east, are looking to source corn from India due to low freight charges. These countries are looking for smaller lots, which India has an advantage in because it can ship such consignments at a competitive price, as per trade analyst.

"Typically, traders based in Dubai export to Africa. We hear what the Africans want, but no direct order has come to us," said MuBala Agro Director Mukesh Singh. Despite strong demand for Indian corn, trade has slowed this week, according to traders. "We received good orders from Vietnam last week. Movement is slow this week," said M Madan Prakash, President of the Agri Commodities Exporters Association (ACEA).

Due to lower freight rates, Indian corn has seen strong demand from South-East Asia and Gulf countries this year. As a result, African countries are increasingly turning to India for their needs. "It makes sense to ship in containers because their charges have decreased in light of the Western slowdown," said the analyst. To South-East Asia, Indian corn is quoted at $308-311 per tonne, while exporters are getting the commodity delivered at ports for Rs 23,000-24,000 per tonne.

The weighted average price of corn is currently Rs 2,163.77 per quintal, up from Rs 2,222.3 a week ago and Rs 1,921.76 a year ago. Prices have risen above the minimum support price of Rs 1,962 per quintal set for this crop year through June. Corn for May delivery ended at 680 cents a bushel ($266.7 a tonne) on the Chicago Board of Trade on Tuesday. Corn prices increased by more than 2% in February.

"Prices for delivery at Tuticorin port have dropped as the crop harvested in Tamil Nadu has begun to arrive," Prakash explained. "Corn is a crop that is available all year, with harvest occurring in one state or the other. However, trade is flat as demand is currently sluggish," Jain explained. "Corn demand has been strong for the past two months. Some are still working to meet the demand. "With kharif arrivals almost finished, some are making do with old stocks," Singh explained.

The Ministry of Agriculture estimates kharif corn production at 34.61 million tonnes (mt), which has aided coarse cereal exports. According to the International Grains Council (IGC), Argentina is offering $314 for corn, Brazil is offering $310, and the United States is offering $300. (all free-on-board). The IGC forecasts global corn production this year at 1,153 mt, down from 1,220 mt last year.

The Food and Agriculture Organization estimates it to be 1,153 mt rather than 1,211.8 mt. Production is down this year due to crop damage in Europe, Russia, and the United States. During the current fiscal year, 19.53 lakh tonnes (lt) valued at $653.36 million were exported between April and November. 36.90 lt worth $1.02 billion were exported in 2021-22. During the period, Bangladesh was the largest importer of Indian corn, purchasing 11.5 lt, while Nepal purchased 2.7 lt and Vietnam 2.3 lt.

(Inputs taken from Business Line)

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