India has banned wheat exports with immediate effect, citing a risk to its food security, partly because of the war in Ukraine.
A notice in the official journal of the Foreign Trade Directorate, dated Friday, said a surge in global wheat prices threatened food security in India and neighboring and vulnerable countries.
One of the main objectives is to control the rise in domestic prices. World wheat prices have increased by more than 40% since the start of the year.
Before the war, Ukraine and Russia accounted for a third of world wheat and barley exports. Since the February 24 Russian invasion, Ukrainian ports have been blocked and civil infrastructure and grain silos have been destroyed.
At the same time, India’s wheat crop has been hit by a record heat wave that is slowing production.
Although it is the world’s second largest producer of wheat, India consumes most of the wheat it produces. It had set a target of exporting 10 million tonnes of grain in 2022-23, seeking to capitalize on global disruptions in wheat supplies due to war and find new markets for its wheat in Europe, in Africa and Asia.
Much of this sum would have gone to other developing countries such as Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand.
In addition to weather-related problems hurting crops, India’s vast wheat stocks – a buffer against famine – have been strained by the free distribution of grain during the pandemic to some 800 million people.
To balance supply and demand, the government requires about 25 million tons (27.5 million US tons) of wheat each year for a massive food welfare program that typically feeds more than 80 million people.
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