Agriculture ministers from the G7 industrialized nations have condemned India’s ban on wheat exports after the country was hit by a punishing heatwave.
India made the announcement on Friday May 13, 2022, with immediate effect as part of measures to control rising domestic prices.
Condemning the action at a news conference in Stuttgart, German Agriculture Minister, Cem Ozdemir, said the action is capable of worsening the current Russia-Ukraine crisis.
“If everyone starts to impose export restrictions or to close markets, that would worsen the crisis,” Ozdemir said.
“We call on India to assume its responsibility as a G20 member,” he stated.
Government officials in New Delhi said on Saturday that India would still allow exports backed by already issued letters of credit and to countries that request supplies “to meet their food security needs”.
"The ban would not be in perpetuity and could be revised," the officials told a news conference.
A spike in the global prices for wheat threatened the food security of India and neighbouring and vulnerable countries, India’s Directorate of Foreign Trade said in a notice in the government gazette dated Friday.
Although there was no dramatic fall in India’s wheat output this year, government officials said that unregulated exports had led to a rise in local prices for the grain.
“We don’t want wheat trade to happen in an unregulated manner or hoarding to happen,” commerce secretary BVR Subrahmanyam told reporters in New Delhi.
According to a report, wheat prices in India have risen to record highs, in some spot markets hitting 25,000 rupees ($320) per tonne, well above the government’s minimum support price of 20,150 rupees ($260).
The ban on exports comes amid disruption in global wheat supplies due to the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine which are major exporters of the foodgrain.