India buys 1 million tonnes of Canadian wheat

India has bought more than one million tonnes of wheat in its biggest purchase from Canada in more than 10 years.

India has bought more than one million tonnes of wheat in itsbiggest purchase from Canada in more than 10 years.

The Canadian Wheat Board has sold 720,000 tonnes of hard Prairie wheat to India, while the Ontario Wheat Producers' Marketing Board will sell 300,000 tonnes of mainly soft Ontario wheat.

"It's a good sale," said CWB spokeswoman Maureen Fitzhenry, adding that the deal confirmed Thursday is welcome news for Prairie growers, who harvested a large crop last year.

The price of the wheat was not disclosed, but the top grades of western wheat were selling for about $235 a tonne Thursday. Lower grades were fetching about $100 a tonne.

Hard prairie wheat is typically used to bake Canadian-style white bread, while soft Ontario wheat is usedfor many Asian-style breads.

India has imported very little Canadian wheat in recent years.

"They've even been an exporter of wheat from time to time," Fitzhenry said, "so the fact that they've entered the market with some demand this year has been significant."

Rick Steinke, director of market analysis with the Canadian Wheat Board, told the Canadian Press that India has experienced poor growing conditions the past two seasons and its wheat stocks have fallen.

"Those [Indian government] stocks have been constantly declining [and] they haven't been able to procure enough of their own domestic wheat crop," Steinke said, "so they're now on the world market buying some wheat, so it's good news."

Steinke said India has imported 3.5 million tonnes of wheat from all sources so far this year, its highest level of imports since 1982-83, when it bought 4.3 million tones on the world market.