The world’s second largest wheat producer, India, has banned the export of the grain with immediate effect. The decision was made in light of the sudden surge in global wheat prices, threatening India’s food security, the country’s export authority said late Friday night.
Criticism of this came on Saturday from the agriculture ministers of the G7 countries. “We all have a responsibility for the rest of the world, especially the big export nations,” said German Agriculture Minister Cem Özdemir on Saturday in Stuttgart after the end of the meeting with his counterparts from the G7 group of industrialized countries. “I’m very critical of that.” According to host Özdemir, the G7 are generally opposed to export bans. “We call for keeping the markets open.”
Just recently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other representatives of the Indian government announced that they would help in the wake of the Ukraine war and export significantly more wheat in view of an impending shortage of wheat on the world market. Ukraine and Russia are both major wheat exporters. Most recently, there were delivery bottlenecks and price increases due to the war. Indian wheat exporters have had export deals with countries like Egypt and Turkey since the war began, Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority chief Tarun Bajaj said.
Heatwave impacted wheat harvest
But then the current extreme heat in India intervened. According to the Department of Food & Public Distribution, this reduces the wheat harvest by almost six percent. Several economists also warned of a possible domestic wheat crisis.
India produces the second most wheat after China – around 100 million tons per year. So far, India has hardly exported any of it. The second most populous country with more than 1.3 billion people needs a lot of wheat itself. The government buys in large quantities in order to supply the poor population in the country, among other things. Previously, farmers had little incentive to sell to exporters because the government paid them a subsidized price that was higher than the world market price at the time. (apa)