NEW DELHI, INDIA — India, the world’s second largest wheat producer, is considering extending its wheat export ban to bring down domestic prices and replenish state reserves, Reuters reported on Feb. 8.
The global wheat supply has been strained in recent months due to the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine, two of the world’s largest wheat exporters, and a significantly reduced crop in drought-stricken Argentina. Shortly after the Russia-Ukraine conflict began in February 2022, India, which was coming off five straight years of bumper crops, pledged to increase exports and made a deal to send 500,000 tonnes of wheat to Egypt, although ultimately the countries agreed to smaller shipment of 180,000 tonnes.
But dry weather and extremely high temperatures last spring reduced the 2022-23 crop to 103 million tonnes, down from the prior year’s record output of 109 million, and contributed to soaring prices for wheat-based foods in India, the world’s second most populous country and the second largest consumer of wheat per capita. Exports also fell to 5.9 million tonnes from the previous year’s record shipments of 8 million tonnes.
India’s decision to extend the export ban comes as domestic wheat prices reached an all-time high of $393 per tonne in January.
The current ban, which has been in place since May 2022, was scheduled to be reviewed in April but government and industry officials told Reuters a decision on extending the ban likely will be made by the end of March or early April. The sources told Reuters they don’t expect wheat exports to resume until mid-2024.