The government has rejected yet another shipment of 50,000 tonnes of wheat imported from Russia on the ground of quality issue.
The latest rejection came within a week of rejection of two more consignments of Russian wheat (weighing 1 lakh tonnes) in late April on the quality ground.
Ilahi Dad Khan, director (procurement) at the Directorate of Food, today confirmed The Daily Star that upon tests carried out on the latest consignment of wheat on April 27, “we informed the supplier ADM International that the wheat did not qualify our specifications. We rejected it".
Bangladesh accepts wheat with a maximum of 0.7 percent foreign materials (non-grain particles) but the shipment had 0.93 percent foreign materials.
Test revealed that the wheat of the consignment had 'test weight' of 74.8 hectolitre as against Bangladesh's set standard of 76 hectolitres. Besides, it had 12.03 percent protein content as against standard 12.5 percent, said food officials.
The wheat was sold at US$211.45 per tonne.
"Now that we've rejected it, the supplier has to take it back."
A week back, the government rejected two consignments of wheat (each weighing 50,000 tonnes) sourced from Russia as it didn't want to compromise the set import specifications.
A Russian official team visited Dhaka and Chittagong last week to know about the development. Ilahi Dad Khan said the delegation has gone back to Moscow with complete satisfaction that "we followed due procedures in testing the imported wheat."
Asked about repeated incidents of Bangladesh being supplied with not up to the standard wheat, food officials in Dhaka said they have sought explanations from two suppliers – ADM International and Phoenix Commodities Ltd – whose three consignments have been rejected.
Russia, a major global wheat exporter, is a prime supplying country for Bangladesh.
Public and private sectors have to import over three million tonnes of wheat to meet the annual demand in Bangladesh as the country produces over one million tonnes of domestic production a year.
Moscow apart, the grain quality issue and subsequent shipment rejections surprised many in Bangladesh's food ministry and food directorate since they consider Russia as one of the providers of the finest wheat.
Asked whether the supplying companies had anything to do with the quality issues, Ilahi Dad Khan did not rule out the possibility.
In recent months, Bangladesh's public sector wheat imports hit a snag as it rejected three shipments, involving 1,25,000 tonnes of French wheat, after the grains failed to meet the standard specified in the tender late last year.
Those rejections came after the government faced severe criticism for importing wheat from Brazil, some of which was found to be sub-standard.
Earlier in last year, when the government imported 2.05 lakh tonnes of wheat from Brazil, its grain quality and insects infestation sparked a huge outcry across the country.
Even ruling party men put up barricades at places blocking entry of the consignments into their public granaries.
Food officials, however, dispelled any concerns over immediate shortage of wheat in the domestic market due to the import hiccups.
They said the government was buying 2 lakh tonnes of wheat from local growers on top of some 3 lakh tonnes of wheat already in stock.