In order to control the retail prices, the government has announced a ban on wheat exports after the retail prices of wheat and its flour have increased by 14-20 percent in the last one year. This decision will help in controlling the wheat price and meet the food requirements of neighboring and weaker countries.
The Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT), in a notification issued late on Friday night, announced a ban on the export policy of wheat with immediate effect. However, export will be allowed on irrevocable Letter of Credit (LoC) issued for export consignment on or before the date of this notification.
As per the DGFT notification, export of wheat to other countries will be allowed on the basis of permission granted by the Government of India to meet their food security needs and on the request of their governments.
India’s wheat exports stood at an all-time high of 7 million tonnes, valued at $2.05 billion, in FY 2021-22 on better demand for Indian wheat from overseas. Out of the total export of wheat, about 50 per cent was exported to Bangladesh in the last financial year.
Opposition Congress slammed the government for banning wheat exports, saying it has taken a ‘U-turn’ on the issue. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi tweeted, “When campaigns decide your decision, you get policy bankruptcy.”
Former Finance Minister P Chidambaram said, “Banning the export of wheat is an anti-farmer move. This deprives the farmer of the benefits of higher export prices. This is an anti-farmer measure and I am not surprised. This government has never been very friendly towards the farmer.
However, top government officials justified the move, saying the restrictions were taken at the “right time” and primarily to check inflation.
To justify the ban, Commerce Secretary BVR Subrahmanyam, Food Secretary Sudhanshu Pandey and Agriculture Secretary Manoj Ahuja said in a joint press conference that there is no shortage of wheat supply in the country and the move is to increase the prices of wheat and wheat flour. taken to control.
“The final point is that food is a very sensitive thing for every country because it affects the poor, the middle and the rich,” the commerce secretary said. He said that the prices of wheat flour have increased by almost 40 per cent in some parts of the country.
He said that the government is also committed to ensuring food security of neighbors and vulnerable countries. “We have left the road open for the neighbours. We have also kept the window open for a large number of vulnerable countries. The aim is to divert the trade direction to the needy, poor and vulnerable countries.
Talking about the financial year 2022-23, he said that as per the estimates, 43 lakh tonnes of wheat has been contracted for export so far. He said that out of this 1.2 million tonnes have already been exported in April and May while rest 11 lakh tonnes of wheat is expected to be exported in the coming time. Along with this, he said that if the price situation improves, then the government can review this decision.
The ban on exports comes amid disruptions in global wheat supplies due to the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine. Russia and Ukraine are the major exporters of wheat.
In a press conference, the Food Secretary said that many other countries like Turkey and the US have imposed different restrictions on the export of wheat.
Regarding the wheat crop, he said that in the crop year 2021-22 (July-June), it is likely to be around 10.5-106 million tonnes, as against the earlier estimate of 111.32 million tonnes. In the last crop year, it was a little over 109 million tonnes.
However, some experts fear that the actual production of wheat may be even lower due to the scorching heat in wheat producing areas of the country.
The government’s wheat procurement in the current marketing year 2022-23 (April-March) has come down from last year’s high of 43.34 million tonnes, amid low production of wheat and higher procurement by private companies. It is likely to be reduced to 18.5 million tonnes.
India wanted to export 10 million tonnes of wheat in the financial year 2022-23. The commerce ministry had recently said that India would send its trade delegations to nine countries to explore the possibilities of boosting wheat exports.
On this occasion, the Food Secretary said that this decision has been taken in the interest of the consumers. He also expressed hope that the retail prices of wheat and flour will come down in a week or two.
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