India curbs export of wheat products from July 12
The Centre has imposed restrictions from July 12 on the export of key wheat products, including flour, wholemeal atta used to make dough and semolina after traders were found exporting these to avoid the May 13 ban on private exports of the grain, according to a Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) notification issued late on Wednesday.
India, the world’s second-largest wheat grower, in May banned private wheat exports to manage its food security needs, keeping a window open for overseas shipments only on the specific requests of foreign governments to “meet their food-security needs”.
The country was hoping to export large quantities of wheat as the government forecast a record output of 111 million tonnes in February. A heatwave from mid-March shrivelled the winter staple, forcing the government to cut production estimates by at least 5%.
The new policy states that the export of wheat flour and wheat-derived products remains “free” but these would be “subject to approval” of an interministerial panel.
Global wheat prices have doubled since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as several importers face steep shortages. “Traders had been exporting wheat products without restrictions to work around the wheat export ban,” an official aware of the matter said.
The war in Ukraine, supply-chain disruptions, and the continued economic fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic are reversing years of development gains and pushing food prices to all-time highs, the World Bank said on July 5. “Record-high food prices have triggered a global crisis that will drive millions more into extreme poverty, magnifying hunger and malnutrition while threatening to erase hard-won gains in development.”
India is one of the few large countries which is self-sufficient in foodgrains, thereby avoiding a food crisis. The government has rationalised subsidised wheat distribution by replacing wheat with rice for some states.
According to the new notification, wheat products loaded for shipment or cleared by customs between July 6-12 will be allowed to be exported.
“Global supply disruptions in wheat and wheat flour have created many new players and have led to price fluctuations and potential quality-related issues. Therefore, it is imperative to maintain the quality of wheat flour exports from India,” the Centre said in its order.