Thukten Zangpo

In a display of solidarity and humanitarian concern, the Indian government has taken a noteworthy step by allocating a substantial wheat quota to Bhutan for the fiscal year 2023-24.

The decision came in response to a request made by the Bhutanese government, signifying the close bilateral ties between the two neighboring nations.

According to a recent notification issued by India’s Directorate General of Foreign Trade, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, the allocation includes 14,184 metric tonnes (MT) of wheat grain, 5,326 MT of wheat flour (atta), and 15,226 MT of maida or semolina. 

This move is primarily aimed at addressing pressing food security concerns in Bhutan, emphasizing the compassionate and supportive role played by India in the region.

Exporters, however, must meet certain criteria to avail themselves of this allocation. The notification stipulates that the minimum threshold for these products to be exported to Bhutan is set at 100 MT by land transport.

This measure ensures that the allocation remains focused on addressing the immediate needs of the Bhutanese population.

It is worth noting that the Indian government had previously suspended the export of wheat flour (both atta and maida) from August of the previous year as part of efforts to stabilize domestic prices.

Despite the suspension, a total of 5,000 MT of wheat was authorized for export to Bhutan in last fiscal year.

The increase in demand for Indian wheat flour last year can be attributed to global wheat supply chain disruptions resulting from the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

These two countries were major exporters of wheat, and their ongoing discord has had widespread implications on global markets, leading to higher prices for the commodity.

However, with the current allocation, the Indian government is further extending its support to address the food security challenges faced by its neighboring nation.

The demand for wheat and meslin flour from India has been significant for Bhutan, as indicated by Bhutan Trade Statistics. In 2022, Bhutan imported 8,659 MT of wheat and meslin flour from India, amounting to Nu 298.28 million. 

This figure had seen a slight decline from the previous year, where imports amounted to 8,921 MT, worth Nu 275.61 million.

In addition to wheat quota allocations, India’s Directorate General of Foreign Trade has also taken another significant step by temporarily banning the export of de-oiled rice bran until November 30 of this year. De-oiled rice bran is widely used in the cattle feed industry, and India is a major exporter of this commodity.