Pakistan is still awaiting a response from Iranian authorities after collection of samples of Pakistani wheat by Iranian inspectors two weeks ago to check its quality which would determine whether Iran would import one million tons of wheat as part of barter trade between the two countries.
“Iranian inspectors visited Pakistan in the first week of the current month and collected samples of Pakistani wheat to check karnal bunt or Tilletia in wheat but they have not yet returned with their diagnosis,” said an official source at Ministry of National Food Security and Research (NFS&S). Iranian inspectors collected wheat samples from the godowns of Pakistan Agricultural Storage and Services Corporation (Passco).
The official said that in the meeting between agriculture experts of Pakistan and Iran it was decided that after examination of wheat, Pakistan will start exporting the commodity to Iran. In July this year, Pakistan agreed to supply wheat at 300 dollars per ton, the price prevailing at that time, he said.
Pakistan has a surplus wheat stock of 1.5 million tons and even after export of one million tons to Iran, 500,000 tons will be left in reserve. Iran had expressed concern over the quality of wheat, which had 0.3 percent karnal bunt (a fungal disease) as Tehran sought a commodity free of fungus. Karnal bunt (KB) is a seed borne disease of wheat caused by Tilletia indica. The disease is known to occur in parts of India, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Mexico and the USA, generally characterised by a semiarid climate with hot summers and cool winters.
The official said that during meetings between Pakistani and Iranian experts held in Iran, Pakistani officials insisted that 0.3 percent fungus was not harmful to human health and was internationally acceptable. The proposed arrangement was first discussed in February this year when President Asif Ali Zardari and Iranian President Mehmoud Ahmadinejad held a meeting in Islamabad. Both the leaders resolved to raise Pak-Iran bilateral trade to 10 billion dollars per annum.