NEW DELHI ( Associated Press) — India has banned wheat exports with immediate effect over risks to its food security caused in part by the war in Ukraine.
In a notice published in the government bulletin dated Friday, the Directorate of Foreign Trade said that the global increase in the price of wheat threatens the food security of India and neighboring and vulnerable countries.
The main objective of the measure is to control the price rise in the domestic market. Globally, it is up more than 40% since the beginning of the year.
Before the war, Ukraine and Russia accounted for a third of world exports of wheat and barley. But since the beginning of the Russian invasion on February 24, Ukrainian ports have been paralyzed and civilian infrastructure and grain silos have been destroyed.
At the same time, the Indian wheat crop has suffered from an unprecedented heat wave that has dented production.
Although it is the second largest producer of wheat in the world, India consumes most of what it harvests. It had set a goal of exporting 10 million tonnes in 2022 and 2023 to take advantage of disruptions in the global supply chain from the war, and find new markets for its wheat in Europe, Africa and Asia.
Much of those exports would go to other developing nations such as Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand.
In addition to weather problems that have affected harvests, the country’s vast wheat reserves — which are a buffer against famine — have been depleted by the free distribution of grain to some 800 million people during the pandemic.
To balance supply and demand, the government needs about 25 million tons of wheat annually for a vast food security program that regularly feeds more than 80 million people.