The Centre “prohibited” export of wheat on May 13 in view of the “sudden spike in the global prices of wheat arising out of many factors,” informed a Ministry of Commerce and Industry order.
The order added that export of wheat will be allowed “in case of shipments where Irrevocable Letter of Credit (ICLC) has been issued on or before the date of this Notification”. Export will also be allowed on a government to government (G2G) basis only after securing the necessary permissions.
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 global food grain supply has been disturbed by the Russian invasion of Ukraine beginning late February. Ukraine is a major wheat-producing nation and a big supplier to Europe.
Apart from demand from the domestic market, the government order cites the priorities of the South Asian region in dealing with the spike in global wheat prices, as India supplies wheat to neighbouring countries, including Afghanistan and Bangladesh.
Afghanistan recently received large consignments of wheat from India on humanitarian grounds. Bangladesh is a big importer of Indian wheat. India produced around 7 million tonnes of wheat during 2021-22, about half of which was exported to Bangladesh.
The government announcement is crucial, as India is the world’s second-biggest wheat producer.
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, say reports.