In an apparent bid to curb local price surge, India has temporarily banned wheat exports with immediate effect. The country – the world’s second-biggest wheat producer – saw a decadal high in wheat prices in April in a worrying development.
Global buyers were banking on India for wheat supplies after exports from the Black Sea region plunged since Russia invaded Ukraine in late February, but now shipments of wheat are allowed for letters of credit that have already been issued, the government said.
Besides, the government will allow exports on requests from other countries, the notification issued by Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) said.
The notification said that the government had taken the decision “in order to manage the overall food security of the country and to support the needs of the neighbouring and other vulnerable countries”.
The export ban comes even as procurement of wheat by government agencies has plunged to a 15-year-low, with only 18 million tonnes (mt) bought so far in the current marketing season, as against the record 43.3 mt in 2021-22. While the wheat marketing season technically extends from April to March, the bulk of government procurement at its minimum support price (MSP) happens from April till mid-May.
“The export policy of onion seeds has been put under the restricted category, with immediate fact,” it said, news agency PTI reported.
The move to ban wheat exports comes after huge crop loss due to a heatwave in March. The government is also under pressure to rein in inflation that surged to 7.79 per cent in April.