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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

WHEAT IN BULK 'Transportation and Handling'

Dear (s) -

Wheat is one of the world's most  staple and important food crops.

Wheat, not only tastes good but is a good source of carbohydrates. We tend to perceive that wheat is the staple food in North India just as rice is to South Indians (aka Madrasis!!)

Wheat was one of the first plants to be cultivated. But for hundreds of thousands of years, people did not grow wheat. They just picked it wild, wherever it happened to grow. Enormous changes in people's lives occurred because of wheat being grown. People began growing their own food and no longer needed to wander in search of food. Permanent settlements were established because wheat provided people with a stable food supply. Soon people grew enough wheat to feed people from other lands. Once there was extra wheat available, trade between various cultures developed.

Wheat grows in a variety of climates and soil. Suitable weather and proper soil are needed to produce a healthy wheat crop. Wheat farmers use high-quality seed that is free from disease to produce high yields. Farmers also have to plant and harvest the wheat at the correct time. & they have to protect the growing crop from damage caused by disease and pests. Today, the wheat producing Nations include – Argentina to Australia, European countries including UK, USA, Russia, China and of course INDIA.

Raw wheat can be powdered into flour; germinated and dried creating malt; crushed or cut into cracked wheat; parboiled (or steamed), dried, crushed and de-branned into bulgur; or processed into semolina, pasta, or roux. Wheat is a major ingredient in such foods as bread, porridge, crackers, biscuits, Muesli, pancakes, pies, pastries, cakes, cookies, muffins, rolls, doughnuts, gravy, boza (a fermented beverage), and breakfast cereals (e.g. Wheatena, Cream of Wheat, Shredded Wheat, and Wheaties).

Here is some science on wheat : Genetics and breeding :

The structure and chemical composition of the grain vary little between the different types of cereal. The cereal grain is a single-seeded indehiscent fruit, the husk of which is formed by the fusion of the fruit and seed walls. It consists of three components:

 Its cracked husk, which gives the grain a greatly increased surface area relative to its mass. This allows the cereal grain to enter into an active exchange of materials with its environment.
 the endosperm, which constitutes the main component of the grain.
 the embryo.

Wheat genetics is more complicated than that of most other domesticated species. Some wheat species occur as stable polyploids, having more than two sets of diploid chromosomes.
• Einkorn wheat (T. monococcum) is diploid (2x chromosomes).
• Most tetraploid wheats (e.g. emmer and durum wheat) are derived from wild emmer, T. dicoccoides. Wild emmer is the result of a hybridization between two diploid wild grasses, T. urartu and a wild goatgrass such as Aegilops searsii or Ae. speltoides. The hybridization that formed wild emmer occurred in the wild, long before domestication.
• Hexaploid wheats evolved in farmers' fields. Either emmer or durum wheat hybridized with yet another wild diploid grass (Aegilops tauschii) to make the hexaploid (6x chromosomes) wheats, spelt wheat and bread wheat.

Compact wheats (Triticum compactum, but in India T. sphaerococcum) are closely related to common wheat, but have a much more compact ear. Their shorter rachis segments lead to spikelets packed closer together. Compact wheats are often regarded as subspecies rather than species in their own right (thus T. aestivum subsp. compactum).

When consigned inland and in small quantities, it is always bagged cargo !

But when imported in huge quantities, it is transported in bulk in ship.  This article is more about the recent import of first consignment of 5 lakh tonnes of wheat in India – which arrived at Chennai Port during end April 06 per bulk carrier Furness Australia. The wheat, imported after a gap of seven years, will be repacked in 50 kg bags and sent to various public distribution centres in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala. But as is usual, this (nay not the ship but the cargo) ran into some rough weather.

The first consignment of wheat imported by India after several years was destined to find its way to households in three southern States, including Tamil Nadu, with the cargo shipped to the Chennai port passing a quality check. There were some reports that this consignment had pesticide content more than the permissible limits, possibly a health hazard. Fresh samples of the cargo, drawn by the Port Health Officer and tested by the Mysore-based Central Food Technological Research Institute, to the relief of all, revealed that pesticide content was within permissible.

Sources on condition of anonymity, said that the first batch of samples which gave positive results, were not taken from all the hatches. Moreover, the pesticide would have evaporated when the cargo was exposed to ambient atmosphere.

The nearly 51,000 tonne cargo is the first consignment of the five lakh tonne to be imported by India from Australia over the next couple of months through the ports of Chennai, Tuticorin, Kochi, New Mangalore and Vishakapatnam.

Interested in knowing how the cargo looked like & how it was handled :

Originally, grain was transported in sacks, but by the middle of the 20th century the normal procedure was to carry it in bulk. It could be stored, loaded and unloaded easily and the time taken to deliver it from producer to customer was greatly reduced, as were the costs involved. However, grain has one great hazard when carried at sea in bulk; it tends to shift within the cargo space of the ship. Because of this danger and the great amount of grain transported by sea, special rules governing its carriage in bulk have appeared in various international instruments including the International Convention on the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS).

Grain has a tendency to settle during the course of a voyage, as air is forced out when the individual grains sink (“sinkage”). This leads to a gap developing between the top of the cargo and the hatch cover. This in turn enables the cargo to move from side to side as the ship rolls and pitches. This movement can cause the ship to list and, although initially the ship’s movement will tend to right this, eventually the list can become more severe. In worst cases, the ship can capsize.

Well,  what you are looking is not 'sand'   b u t   'wheat grains' from aboard the carrying vessel 

Wheat sucked by grabs  

another handling photo -  look at the funnel structure
now on to the waiting lorries

Happy in sharing this with you all

S. Sampathkumar. 

PS : this was an article circulated to friends during May 2006.... if you liked this article, do leave your comments below or mail me @ 


  1. very good one Sir - ornately written - Shastri

  2. fine photographic depiction - wheeet looks more like sand = Lopez

  3. very good informative - great work - Chakravathi

  4. Can you provide me more details about the bulk or loose transportation of wheat grains through trucks as you have shown in last photo.
    I am currently looking to transporting wheat in bulk instead bags and i am unable to get any information about these operations in India. I will also like to have information about the bulk insurance schemes.

    Thank you

  5. Your Blog post has very helpful information.Thanks for share....
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