Questionable ban on wheat export

The centre’s sudden decision to ban the export of wheat reflects a knee-jerk reaction and may not be helpful in taming the soaring inflation. Only last month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had told United States President Joe Biden in his inaugural address at the 2+2 ministerial meeting that if the World Trade Organization (WTO) allows India to export grains it will start exporting to feed the world. The ban came a day after the government announced that trade delegations were being sent to nine countries for exploring possibilities of boosting wheat exports. The Modi government has claimed that there is enough stock of wheat and that India is ready to feed the world. The whole propaganda machinery of the present regime has been busted by this move to ban the export of wheat.
The unexpected move comes even as government data showed annual consumer price inflation hitting a near eight-year high of 7.79% in April and retail food inflation surging higher to 8.38%. Though the centre has claimed that there were enough food stocks and no threat to food security, the 2022-23 rabi marketing season is witnessing a sharp drop in wheat procurement. The revised estimates of wheat production are much lower than the estimated 111 million tonnes (mt), and that wheat procurement is likely to end up at around 20 mt by June end against more than 43 mt last year. The April 2022 wheat inflation is at 9.59% against the overall cereal inflation of 5.96%. The unexpected export ban adversely hits the credibility of India as a reliable supplier in global markets. The decline in crop yield, triggered by climate change, may not be alarming as of now, but it is a warning that things can worsen if farmers and policy-makers do not do course correction. The government of India should wake up from the deep slumber. They need to act and address the concern.