AWB has rejected claims that wheat shipments to Pakistan have not met quality specifications and has serious concerns regarding the procedures undertaken to test the quality of the wheat in Pakistan.
AWB Pool Manager David Johnson said the Pakistani Government had rejected all four cargoes of Australian wheat for a number of unsubstantiated reasons, including the alleged presence of Karnal Bunt, a fungal disease which is absent in Australia.
“Despite repeated requests from the Australian Federal Government, the Pakistani Government has not confirmed the testing results nor have they responded to a request from the Australian Federal Government to have the wheat tested in an independent country,” said Mr Johnson.
“This suggests to us that the Pakistani Government are unwilling or unable to substantiate their early claims.
"AWB is concerned that the Pakistani Authorities did not follow recognised international procedures regarding testing of the wheat,” Mr Johnson said. He said the scientific methodology and process followed by the Pakistan Agricultural Storage and Services Corporation (PASSCO) was flawed.
“AWB is prepared to subject the samples to independent third party testing. Unfortunately Pakistan is unwilling to subject their process to the same transparency and rigour,” said Mr Johnson.
The Government of Pakistan called an international tender for the supply of 150,000 tonnes of wheat via the Pakistan Agricultural Storage and Services Corporation in December. The tender was awarded to Tradesman International (a Pakistan trading company), which in turn contracted to secure the wheat from AWB.
“AWB has had the wheat tested a number times at loading in Australia, on arrival in Pakistan and results show the wheat exceeded all contractual quality parameters and does not contain Karnal Bunt,” said Mr Johnson.
“This was confirmed by an independent, internationally-recognised supervision company, Intertek Caleb Brett, who also tested the cargoes.
“The wheat was also loaded under supervision of the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service and met all required quality specifications and showed no signs of Karnal Bunt,” said Mr Johnson.
AWB has received confirmation from the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry that Karnal Bunt is absent from Australia and appreciates the support it has received from the Federal Government in trying to resolve this issue.
“Even though the AWB National Pool has been paid for the cargoes in question it will provide assistance to Tradesman International in finding a customer for this high quality wheat if required,” said Mr Johnson.
“AWB prides itself on supplying high quality, clean, dry Australian wheat to the highest possible specification to all our international customers and has written to all our customers reassuring them that Karnal Bunt is not known in Australia.
So far, customer response has been positive. AWB and Australian Government have given further assurances on Karnal bunt, to the quality conscious market of Japan.
AWB participated and sold 40,000 tonnes at this week’s weekly Japanese wheat and is pleased with this outcome given Japan’s strict food safety standards and expects wheat sales to Japan to be around one million tonnes this year.
Additional tests were also conducted on a number of Australian wheat shipments to Morocco at discharge and there was no evidence of karnal bunt.