India – India today indicated that it would not allow the food security of its South Asian neighbours to be hit by the ban imposed on exports of wheat and that the measure was a temporary one.

Indian Commerce Secretary BVR Subrahmanyam told the media in New Delhi that there was no crisis of wheat supply in the country and the move was to control domestic prices of wheat and wheat flour, reports our New Delhi correspondent.

He said India is also committed to ensuring the food security of neighbours and vulnerable countries.

“We have kept the window open for (our) neighbours. We have also kept the window open for a large number of vulnerable countries if their governments do make such requests…The order is to divert trade to the needy, poor and the vulnerable countries,” he added without naming any country.

Talking about the current fiscal 2022-23, the commerce secretary said as per estimates, 4.3 million tonnes of wheat have been contracted for exports so far.

Out of this, 1.2 million tonnes have already been exported in April and May, and another 1.1 million tonnes are expected to be shipped, he said.

The commerce secretary said if the price situation improves, the government may review the ban on wheat export.

“No order is in perpetuity. If these figures get changed and global prices change. If food and agriculture departments are comfortable, again it (the decision) will be reviewed,” he said.

To justify the ban, Subrahmanyam said, “At the end of the day, food is a very sensitive item for every country because it affects everybody – poor, the middle and the rich.”

Wheat flour prices have gone up in some parts of the country by about 40 percent, he pointed out.

Official data released this week showed India’s retail inflation surged to an eight-year high in April due to high prices of fuel and food items.

The Daily Star