The government banned wheat exports late Friday citing food security risks for India and its neighbours and other vulnerable countries, even as it promised to meet already committed contracts.
Exports will be allowed to vulnerable countries for their food security needs through government-to government agreements. The government expects these steps to tame domestic wheat and atta prices that have risen sharply following demand for exports and likely lower output in the current year.
Export of all wheat, including high-protein durum and normal soft bread varieties, have been moved from “free” to the “prohibited” category with effect from May 13, the commerce department said in a notification late Friday.
“One primary goal is to put a check on inflation,” said commerce secretary, BVR Subrahmanyam. “During a global shortage or a perceived shortage there is a tendency to hoard. This will ensure that does not happen,” he said, adding that “the order is not for perpetuity” and the government will take a look at it sometime.
Wheat traders and exporters said move will help stabilise wheat prices. “There are traders and farmers who are holding onto their wheat stock and waiting for prices to go higher. This is to encourage them to release their stocks,” Siraj Chaudhry, MD & CEO, National Commodities Management Service Limited, a post-harvest service provider
According to official data, the average price of wheat flour in retail markets was about ₹33 per kilogram on May 8, nearly 13% up from a year ago.