India on Sunday said it would keep a window open for wheat exports to food-deficient countries at the official level, despite restrictions imposed two days ago.
India’s Commerce Secretary BVR Subramaniam told reporters that the government would allow the private sector to fulfill its earlier 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 like Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka.
The rise in global wheat prices poses a threat to the food security of India and neighboring and vulnerable countries, according to a statement in the official gazette of the Department of Foreign Trade on Friday.
The main purpose of restrictions on exports is to control rising domestic prices. Global wheat prices have risen more than 40% since the beginning of the year.
Before the war, Ukraine and Russia accounted for one-third of global wheat and barley exports. Since Russia’s February 24 invasion, Ukrainian ports have been cordoned off and civilian infrastructure and grain silos destroyed.
At the same time, India’s own wheat crop has been damaged by record-breaking heat waves that have halted production.
He said India’s wheat production has declined by three million tonnes this year from 106 million tonnes last year. Wheat prices in India have risen by 20-40%.
“The current rise in prices seems to be a panic response, not a response based on a real drop in supply or a sudden shooting of demand,” says Subramaniam.
Although it is the second largest wheat producer in the world, India consumes most of the wheat it produces. It set a target of 10 million tons of grain exports in 2022-23, capitalizing on global barriers to the supply of wheat from the war to find new markets for wheat in Europe, Africa and Asia.
Out of the total production of 109 million tonnes, up to 90 million tonnes of wheat was consumed in India last year, Subramaniam said, adding that India exported 7 million tonnes of wheat last year.