Despite the ban, India is open to exporting wheat to poor countries

New Delhi — India said on Sunday that it would leave windows open for exporting wheat to food-deficient countries at the government level, despite the restrictions announced two days ago.

India’s Secretary of Commerce BVR Subrahmanyam told reporters that the government would also allow private companies to fulfill their previous promise to export about 4.3 million tonnes of wheat by July. India exported 1 million tonnes of wheat in April.

India mainly exports wheat to neighboring countries such as Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka.

A government bulletin notice by the Department of Foreign Trade on Friday said rising global prices for wheat threatened food security in India and its neighbors and vulnerable countries.

The main purpose of export restrictions is to curb the rise in domestic prices. Global wheat prices have risen by more than 40% since the beginning of the year.

Before the war, Ukraine and Russia accounted for one-third of the world’s wheat and barley exports. Since the invasion of Russia on February 24, Ukraine’s ports have been closed and private infrastructure and grain storage silos have been destroyed.

At the same time, India’s own wheat harvest suffers from record heat waves that impede production.

He said India’s wheat production this year fell by 3 million tonnes from last year’s 106 million tonnes. Wheat prices are rising 20-40 percent in India.

“The current rise in prices seems to be a panic reaction, not a reaction based on a true supply collapse or a sudden surge in demand,” said Subramaniyam.

India is the world’s second largest producer of wheat, but consumes most of the wheat it produces. Taking advantage of the global turmoil in wheat supply from the war, we have set a goal of exporting 10 million tons of grain from 2022 to 23 with the aim of finding new wheat markets in Europe, Africa and Asia. ..

According to Subrahmanyam, India consumed up to 90 million tonnes of wheat last year out of a total production of 109 million tonnes, and India exported 7 million tonnes last year.

By Ashok Sharma

Associated Press