Several countries such as Bangladesh, Indonesia, the UAE, South Korea, Oman and Yemen have approached India for wheat imports under bilateral arrangements between governments. New Delhi had put a ban on wheat exports on May 13, amid fears of a looming shortage in the domestic markets.
However, the ban is not applicable for two kinds of shipments — exports committed by the Indian government under bilateral understanding with a few countries to meet their food security needs and shipments under transitional arrangements, where irrevocable letters of credit have been issued prior to the ban.
Sources said the government is actively considering requests from these countries to allow wheat exports. In case of government-to-government grain exports, the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India (Nafed) carries out the exports on behalf of the government. “India will continue to allow wheat export for countries which are in serious need, are friendly and have the letter of credit”, Union minister Piyush Goyal said earlier in the week at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
“While 7-8% rise in wheat production was expected this year, severe heat waves led to early harvest and loss of production,” Goyal said. He had added that India was never a traditional player in the international wheat market and wheat exports only began about two years ago. India exported a record 7 million tonne (MT) of wheat worth $2 billion in FY22, against just 2.1 MT worth $0.55 billion in FY21.
The export ban has come at a time when traders had already received orders for 4.5 MT and were looking at more deals in the short term, in keeping with the government’s export target of 10 MT. The global wheat market is very volatile at present, owing to the shortage caused by the Russia-Ukraine war.