The central government has banned the export of wheat with immediate effect following the dire situation of lower-than-estimated domestic wheat production and an excessive rise in world prices after a surge in demand following the Russian-Ukrainian war.
There is only one exception mentioned in the notification released late Friday. Earlier, the Center said it was happy that farmers were getting good returns for their produce as India had exported almost 11 lakh metric tons (LMT) of wheat till April. The government also claimed that it was committed to ensuring food security for its people, its neighbours, as well as some vulnerable countries and therefore introduced the amendment in the relevant sections of the export policy.
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Exports would only be permitted for shipments for which an irrevocable letter of credit had been issued by May 13. Since the arrival of the new wheat on the market, a large number of farmers sold their products to private traders who in turn sent it to exporters in the face of huge demand.
Russia and Ukraine were the largest wheat exporters to international markets. Since war broke out on February 24, supply has been disrupted with an increase in demand.
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Due to massive heat waves in March and April, estimated foodgrain production has been revised to 1,050 LMT from a previous estimate of 1,113 LMT. Indian traders were buying wheat directly from farmers at higher prices, which also caused public markets to decline.
However, Food Secretary Sudhanshu Pandey told the media just 10 days ago that India has enough stocks to meet its domestic needs to ensure food security. Wheat exports in 2019-20 were 2.17 lakh metric tons and increased to 21.55 LMT in 2020-21, which in turn increased to 72.15 LMT in 2021-22.
“This season, about 40 LMT wheats have been contracted for export and about 11 LMT have already been exported in April 2022,” Pandey said.