India has said it will not abandon neighbours and vulnerable counties on wheat supply after it banned exports of the foodgrain without government approval. The restrictions on wheat exports came after India experienced its hottest March on record, which hit production. This also dealt a blow to countries already reeling from supply shortages and soaring prices since Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which is among one of the largest wheat-growing nations.
In a tweet today, Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said the country's wheat stocks are at a "comfortable" level.
He assured that India will fulfil all commitments on wheat exports, hours after the Group of Seven (G7) industrialised nations' agriculture ministers meeting in Germany said India's move to restrict wheat exports "would worsen the crisis" of rising commodity prices.
"Wheat stocks are comfortable. Decision to restrict wheat exports taken with focus on India's food security, ensuring affordable foodgrain and to combat market speculation. India, a reliable supplier will fulfil all commitments including needs of neighbours and vulnerable countries," Mr Puri tweeted.
Wheat stocks are comfortable. Decision to restrict wheat exports taken with focus on India's food security, ensuring affordable foodgrains & to combat market speculation. India, a reliable supplier will fulfil all commitments including needs of neighbours & vulnerable countries.— Hardeep Singh Puri (@HardeepSPuri) May 14, 2022
Global wheat prices have soared on supply fears following Russia's February invasion of Ukraine, which previously accounted for 12 per cent of global exports.
The spike in prices, exacerbated by fertiliser shortages and poor harvests, has fuelled inflation globally and raised fears of famine and social unrest in poorer countries.
"If everyone starts to impose export restrictions or to close markets, that would worsen the crisis," German Agriculture Minister Cem Ozdemir said at a press conference in Stuttgart, news agency AFP reported.
G7 ministers urged countries not to take restrictive action that could pile further stress on the produce markets. They "spoke out against export stops and call as well for markets to be kept open", said Mr Ozdemir, whose nation holds the rotating presidency of the group. "We call on India to assume its responsibility as a G20 member," Mr Ozdemir added.
India, the world's second-largest wheat producer, said that factors including lower production and sharply higher global prices meant it worried about the food security of its own 1.4 billion people.
Export deals agreed before the directive issued on Friday could still be honoured, but future shipments need the centre's approval.
"We don't want wheat to go in an unregulated manner where it may either get hoarded and is not used for the purpose which we are hoping it will be used for - which is serving the food requirements of vulnerable nations and vulnerable people," Commerce Secretary BVR Subrahmanyam said.