Bangladesh seeks answers on ‘bad wheat’ from Brazil

Dispute erupts over quality of imported wheat

Bangladesh’s high court has given the government three days to report whether wheat imported from Brazil is fit for human consumption.

The wheat imported from Brazil was found to be substandard by the Bangladesh Council of Scientific and Industrial Research and the Directorate General of Food. Test results came after the country’s food ministry said the wheat was “within the quality parameters or within specification of contract.”

The 200,000 tons of wheat reportedly was accepted although the suppliers failed to provide the crops’ year certificate and the Certificate of Standard and Quality of Wheat, issued either by Brazil’s agriculture ministry or chamber of commerce.

Media reports said the wheat, supplied by Singapore-based contractor Olam International, was of substandard quality. Later, studies showed that wheat imported from Brazil in February and March is of substandard quality and a significant amount was found to be rotten.

“There are living insects in the samples and this [the wheat] could be distributed after controlling the insects in the proper way,” one study found.

Another report said: “All the supplied samples contained higher amount of shrunken and broken kernels than the supplied specification.”

Critics demanded that Food Minister Qamrul Islam resign over the “bad wheat,” but he presented two reports to prove the wheat was of good quality.

“The wheat is perfectly fine. The tests done by the Directorate General of Food and science laboratory (Bangladesh Council of Scientific and Industrial Research) have made it clear,” he said. “I’m satisfied with the standards.”

Reports say the wheat is being distributed among police, Border Guard Bangladesh, Ansar, prisons, dealers, flour mills, and for Test Relief and Food for Work programs.

The court is due to revisit the issue on July 5.