New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: Defending the central government's decision to impose a ban on the export of wheat, Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said India, as a "reliable supplier", will fulfil its commitments and provide assistance to its neighbours and vulnerable countries.

"Wheat stocks are comfortable. Decision to restrict wheat exports taken with focus on India’s food security, ensuring affordable foodgrains and to combat market speculation. India, a reliable supplier will fulfil all commitments including needs of neighbours and vulnerable countries," he tweeted on Saturday.

Puri's reaction came in response to the G7 countries, which criticised India's move to ban wheat exports amid rising prices and a decline in production of the crop.

"If everyone starts to impose export restrictions or to close markets, that would worsen the crisis... We call on India to assume its responsibility as a G20 member," said German Agriculture Minister Cem Ozdemir at a press conference.

India's ban on wheat

According to an official notification dated May 13, India has banned wheat exports with immediate effect to control rising domestic prices. However, exports for which irrevocable letters of credit (LoC) have been issued on or before the date of this notification will be allowed.

"The export policy of wheat... is prohibited with immediate effect...," Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) notification read while clarifying that wheat exports "will be allowed on the basis of permission granted by the Government of India to other countries to meet their food security needs and based on the request of their governments."

Why did India impose the ban?

According to reports, the ban will help the government "crush" attempts by some "foreign players" - mainly Chinese players - to hoard Indian wheat for price manipulation in the international market.

Reports, however, claim that Indian wheat will be provided to needy countries. "The ban will crush attempts to hoard Indian wheat for price manipulation. It will also counter food inflation," news agency PTI quoted sources as saying.

Wheat and wheat flour retail prices have increased by 14 to 20 per cent over the last one year. Amid this, India's wheat exports stood at an all-time high of 7 million tonnes in the 2021-22 fiscal year.

In the current fiscal 2022-23, India has contracted 4.3 million tonnes of wheat for exports till now. According to Commerce Secretary BVR Subrahmanyam, 1.2 million tonnes of wheat were exported in April and May while 1.1 million tonnes are expected to be shipped.

India, according to reports, was looking to export 10 million tonnes of wheat in the current fiscal year. The ban, however, might be revoked if the situation improves.

"...to ensure that we are able to direct food supplies to vulnerable countries vulnerable food-deficit countries and their people and help them as per the requirements including neighbouring countries," news agency ANI quoted Commerce Secretary BVR Subrahmanian as saying.

"...to ensure that those who have firm contracts are able to honour their contracts. So you will see that people who have letters of Credit now for delivery in June, the stuff will be going but the only thing is we do not want new people to get into the game. The new ones will be there as per any particular government making a request," Subrahmanian added.

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma