Friday, May 20 2022 | Time 23:08 Hrs(IST)
Business Economy

India not reneging on any existing contract for wheat exports: Commerce Secretary

New Delhi, May 14 (UNI) A day after prohibiting exports of wheat citing food security risks in the country, the government on Saturday said India is not reneging on any existing contract.
"Our reliability as a supplier is being maintained by not reneging on any existing contract. If we say that roughly 1.6 or 1.7 million tonnes (of wheat) have gone out, we are still prepared to allow another 2.5 million tonnes (of wheat) to go if there are prior booked valid orders with letter of credit," Commerce Secretary B.V.R. Subrahmanyam told reporters here today.
Subrahmanyam allayed fears of food shortage and said that there was no dramatic fall in wheat production, besides public and private sector had adequate stocks.
He emphasised that the latest order to restrict wheat exports was intended to divert trade to needy, poor and the vulnerable.
"Please interpret the order not as a prohibition or a ban but as a order to divert trade to needy, poor and the vulnerable," he said.
As per provisional figures presented during the media briefing, about 45 lakh metric tonne (LMT) wheat has been contracted for export in 2022-23 and 14.63 LMT has been exported in April 2022.
Due to early summer, wheat production forecast has come down to 105 million tons from 111 million tonnes earlier. With wheat being exported to various countries due to supply disruption arising from Russia-Ukraine war, there has been apprehensions that India could see price of wheat surging.
This may add to the food inflation pressure which has already been a major area of concern for the policymakers.
Food Secretary Sudhanshu Pandey noted during the media briefing that unregulated trade leads to rise in price of wheat. Therefore, he further said that it was the government's responsibility to ensure availability of wheat and price stability.
The government's move to prohibit wheat exports came as a surprise for many experts as just days back it had said that trade delegations would be sent to 9 countries to boost wheat exports from the country.
"The Centre will send trade delegations to Morocco, Tunisia, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Turkey, Algeria and Lebanon for exploring possibilities of boosting wheat exports from India. India has set a target of a record 10 million tonnes of wheat in the 2022-23 amid rising global demand for the grain globally," Commerce and Industry Ministry had said in a press release on May 12.
The prohibition order came late evening on Friday stating that it will take effect immediately.
On being asked about the change of stance, Commerce Secretary said that decisions change on the basis of changing requirement and that government had not set 10 million export target.
He added that since India exported 7 million tonne of wheat in 2021-22 it was very natural to aspire for exporting 10 million tonnes this year.
As per official data, wheat production in 2021-22 was 1,095 LMT while wheat procurement (for distribution to the needy and the poor) during that year was 433 LMT.
As per Agriculture Ministry's latest estimate, total wheat production in the country is estimated at 1,050 LMT in 2022-23. Expected procurement for the year is 185 LMT.
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