The Central government has placed a ban on wheat export with immediate effect in the wake of the grave situation of less than estimated domestic wheat production and an excessive global price hike after a spike in demand following the Russia-Ukraine war. There is just one exception mentioned in the notification that was issued late on Friday. Earlier, the Centre had said it was happy that the farmers were getting good returns for their produce as India had exported almost 11 lakh metric tonnes (LMT) of wheat till April.
The government also claimed that it was committed to provide food security to its own population, its neighbours and also some vulnerable countries and hence brought in the amendment in relevant sections of the Export Policy. Exports would be allowed only in case of shipments where irrevocable Letter of Credit (LoC) has been issued on or before May 13. Since the new wheat came in the market, a large number of farmers had been selling their produce to private traders who in turn were sending it to exporters in the face of the huge demand. Both Russia and Ukraine have been the largest exporters of wheat in the international markets. Ever since the war broke out on February 24, the supply has been disrupted with an increase in demand. Due to massive heat waves in March and April, the estimated food grain production had revised to 1,050 LMT against the earlier estimate of 1,113 LMT.
Indian traders had been buying wheat directly from the farmers at increased prices leading to a shortfall in government procurement too. However, Secretary Food, Sudhanshu Pandey had told media persons just 10 days ago that India had enough stocks to cater to its domestic requirement to ensure food security. Wheat export in 2019-20 was 2.17 lakh metric tonnes that had increased to 21.55 LMT in 2020-21, which in turn increased to 72.15 LMT in 2021-22. "This season, about 40 LMT wheat has been contracted for export and about 11 LMT has already been exported in April 2022," Pandey had said.