India bans wheat exports in growing wave of food protectionism

Limiting exports would be a blow to India’s ambition to profit from rising world wheat prices after the war disrupted trade flows out of the critical Black Sea breadbasket region.

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

An unusually early and record-breaking heat wave in India reduced wheat yields, adding to pressure on food prices. Credit:PA

Bloomberg News reported earlier this month that a record heat wave damaged wheat yields across the South Asian country, prompting the government to consider export restrictions. The Food Ministry has said it sees no need to control exports, even though the government has cut estimates of India’s wheat production.

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

After Egypt, Turkey has also given its approval to import corn from India, she added.

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

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

Bloomberg, Reuters

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