New Delhi, May 14
Hours after imposing a ban on wheat exports, top officials said the decision to “restrict” had been taken to stop unregulated trade to curb inflation and hoarding and ensure supplies to poor and vulnerable nations.
Production has “not gone down dramatically” they insisted, adding that trade is being regulated to reign in the rising domestic prices. There was a sufficient quantity of stocks. The price rise is imported (due to international prices). If global prices change, the ban can be reviewed.
“No order is in perpetuity. If the figures change, if global prices change, if the food and agriculture departments are comfortable, it will be reviewed,” commerce secretary BVR Subrahmanyam said. However, some revisions have been made in allocation grains to beneficiaries under NFSA from June 2022 to March 2023.
The “control order” serves three main purposes, “maintains the food security for the country, helps others who are in distress and maintains India’s reliability as a supplier,” Subrahmanyam said, asserting that all export orders where the letter of credit has been issued would be fulfilled.
“Exports through government channels will help take care of genuine needs of our neighbours and food deficit countries and also anchor inflationary expectations. Apart from the food security of India, the Government is committed to ensure food security of neighbours and vulnerable countries. Of the export of 7 MT last year, almost half of it went to Bangladesh alone,” he said.
Food Secretary Sudhanshu Pandey said the government has boosted the availability of wheat by reallocation to states. “This year, our opening stock of wheat was 190 LMT, which was little less than last year’s opening balance of 273 LMT. Last year’s procurement was 433 LMT whereas in Rabi season this year, the estimated procurement is about 440 LMT. The extra procurement so far is around 180 LMT.”
“Adding up the stocks against the stock of 706 LMT of last year, this year stocks will be 375 LMT. That is why after consulting with states, we have re-allocated some quantities by changing the ratios of wheat and rice,” he said. For example, states getting wheat and rice in the ratio 60:40 will get it in the ratio of 40:60. Similarly, the ratio of 75:25 has been made 60:40.
Agriculture Secretary Manoj Ahuja said heat wave caused damage to wheat crops, especially in the northwest but the difference compared to last year is “marginal”. “Last year the production figures of wheat were 109 LMT. Our estimates show 105-106 LMT of wheat this year,” he added.
India is not the only country to impose restrictions on export, officials said. During March-April, seven countries, including Russia, Argentina, Kazakhstan, Hungary, Bulgaria, Turkey, Philippines, also imposed various kinds of restrictions, including a ban on wheat export.
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