India can export up to 3 million tonnes of wheat from the government stock to sanction-hit Iran if West Asian nation is satisfied with the quality of the grain, Food Minister K V Thomas said today.
"A delegation from Iran was here for a week. After their field visit, they have taken samples to their country to finalise the quality issues," Thomas said.
"Our understanding is that the team felt positive about testing facilities in India. If Iran clears quality norms, especially Karnal bunt disease, there is a scope to export 2-3 million tonnes of wheat from the government stock," he added.
Iran is keen on importing the Indian wheat now, but faces the hurdles of quality guidelines. Suspecting a fungal disease, Iran in 1996 had banned Indian wheat. The West Asian nation had suspected that Indian wheat was infested with 'Karnal bunt' -- a fungal disease.
Karnal bunt was first reported in 1931 from Karnal, Haryana. The disease primarily spreads via contaminated seeds.
The two-member Iranian delegation was in India for a week till June 18 to check whether the quality of wheat sample tested in quarantine labs and the grain lying in government godowns are still the same.
A senior Food Ministry official said that Iran is India's third largest crude oil supplier and New Delhi wants to strengthen its bilateral economic ties with export of farm commodities like wheat.
"India will have an assured market for wheat if the quality issues are settled with Iran," the official said.
India lifted ban on wheat exports in September 2011 on the back of record production in the two consecutive years. However, wheat shipments have not been impressive due to lower global prices. So far, only one million of wheat has been shipped out of the country.
If the Iran government agrees to import wheat, then it would ease pressure on Indian government, which is battling to clear surplus stock to ease storage crisis.