India bans wheat exports in growing wave of food protectionism

Curbing exports would be a hit to India’s ambition to cash in on the rally in global wheat prices after the war upended trade flows out of the critical Black Sea breadbasket region.

Importing nations had looked to India for supplies, with top buyer Egypt recently approving the South Asian nation as an origin for wheat imports.

An unusually early, record-shattering heat wave in India has reduced wheat yields, adding to the pressure on food prices. Credit:AP

Bloomberg News reported earlier this month that a record-shattering heat wave has damaged wheat yields across the South Asian nation, prompting the government to consider export restrictions. The food ministry had said it didn’t see a need to control exports, even as the government cut estimates for India’s wheat production.

Shipments with irrevocable letters of credit that have already been issued will still be allowed, according to the latest notification. Traders have already contracted to export 4 million tons of wheat so far in 2022-23, the food ministry said on May 4.

After Egypt, Turkey has also given approval to import wheat from India, it said.

The government said its wheat purchases for the country’s food aid program, the world’s largest, will be less than half of last year’s level.

The ban on shipments will likely hurt farmers and traders who have stockpiled the grain in anticipation of higher prices on the domestic market.

Bloomberg, Reuters

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Pratik Parija

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