India, the world’s second-largest wheat producer, has banned exports of the grain with few exceptions, a move that could worsen worldwide shortages due to the war. in Ukraine and aggravated dire forecast because of global hunger.
War has Wheat production is interrupted in Ukraine and Russia, which are the main suppliers. Fighting and blockades in the Black Sea disrupted grain shipments. And poor harvest in Chinatogether with a heat wave in india and droughts in other countries, have continued to plague global supplies.
According to data from the US Department of Agriculture, India has about 10% of the world’s grain reserves, a large surplus because it subsidizes farmers heavily. For the past several months, the country has been seen as a country that can help make up for the global supply shortfall.
The ban on wheat exports, announced in a Ministry of Commerce note Friday, appears to be an upcoming face from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s earlier statements. The Indian leader told President Biden in April that the country was ready to supply the world from its reserves. He also called on domestic wheat producers to seize the opportunity, and suggested that Indian officials and financial institutions should support exporters.
However, agricultural experts say the continued heat wave and rising temperatures could affect this year’s harvest, which could prompt the government to change course and impose an export ban. password.
The Commerce Department’s announcement on Friday said that the export of wheat was immediately banned, with some exceptions, as a spike in wheat prices threatened India’s food security. Restricted exports will be allowed at the request of individual governments with vulnerable food supplies, the notice said.
The export ban could be a further blow to international organizations working to combat the growing threat of widespread hunger. The World Food Program, an agency of the United Nations, has warned that an additional 47 million people could go hungry as a result of war, adding to the current crisis high food prices and shortages of food. fertilizer.
At the beginning of May, the agency’s chief economist, Arif Husain, said that it was in discussions with India to tap its stockpile in order to alleviate the shortfall. He also said that the World Food Program has urged countries not to enact export bans as they could raise prices and reduce availability. “Hopefully countries are listening,” he said.
Ashok Gulati, a prominent agricultural economist in India, said the ministry’s announcement does not reflect well on India, as it contradicts previous comments by the government about wanting to supply wheat to countries in need.
“If there is a global increase, you can tame it by opening up, rather than closing borders,” Mr. Gulati said.
The move is likely to be unpopular with Indian farmers.
Ranbeer Singh Sirsa, a farmer in Punjab, said the ban is likely to affect wheat farmers, who have recently benefited from higher prices and demand.
“If the price wants to go up, let it stabilize at international prices,” Mr. Sirsa said. “Who are they trying to protect now, at the expense of farmers?”