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India Assures Supplies to Needy as G-7 Criticises Modi's Wheat Exports Ban

© Sputnik / Ilya NaimushinWheat harvesting on the field of Russian JSC "Solgon" in the vicinity of the village of Solgon, Krasnoyarsk Territory.
Wheat harvesting on the field of Russian JSC Solgon in the vicinity of the village of Solgon, Krasnoyarsk Territory.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 15.05.2022
The Indian government on Saturday restricted wheat exports, days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi boasted about food stocks and the nation's capability to feed the world when the Ukrainian crisis disrupted supply chains.
After facing flak from G7 countries, India clarified that restriction on wheat exports would not affect its "prior commitment," underscoring that the decision is aimed at supporting neighbouring and vulnerable countries adversely affected by the sudden changes in the global market.
"This restriction would not apply in cases where prior commitments have been made by private trade as well as in situations where permission is granted by the Government of India to other countries to meet their food security needs and on the requests of their governments," a statement issued by the Indian embassy in Berlin read.
On Saturday, the Indian government announced an amendment in India's export policy for wheat following low production owing to an unprecedented heatwave that swept the country since March.
In February, India's agriculture ministry projected wheat output at a record 111.3 million tonnes for the current year. However, the production is now seen at around 105 million-106 million tonnes as severe heatwave led to moisture loss and smaller grains.
The sudden policy change surprised many as India's Commerce Ministry announced trade delegations to nine countries on 12 May to explore opportunities to achieve 10 million tonnes of wheat exports this year.
The G7 countries condemned New Delhi's decision to halt exports, asking India to assume its responsibility as a G20 member.
On Saturday, German agriculture minister Cem Ozdemir said the issue will come up during June's G7 Summit, which India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi will attend.
"The ban on exports affects countries like Bangladesh and Nepal, which urgently need it. We also recommend that a concrete decision be taken on this issue at the G7 meeting of heads of state and government to which India will be invited," Ozdemir said.
However, India claimed that the decision to regulate wheat exports and direct them through government channels would ensure the fulfilment of the genuine needs of India's neighbours and countries suffering from a food deficit, as well as control inflationary expectations.
Indian officials on Saturday said that New Delhi had committed 4.5 million tonnes of wheat exports this year. Last year, it exported over 7.2 million tonnes of wheat, primarily to Bangladesh.
Several traders told Sputnik on condition of anonymity that they had booked large quantities for buyers from South Korea, the Philippines, Thailand, Turkey, Egypt, and Indonesia.
On 12 May, India's Oman envoy Amit Narang told Sputnik that a few wheat consignments had already arrived in Oman, and India would pursue selling more wheat to the Gulf nation.
After a three-day meeting of G7 foreign ministers, German foreign minister Annalena Baerbock said the group is scouting for an alternative routes to bring at least 28 million tonnes of wheat, stuck in Ukrainian ports due to Moscow's special military operation, to global markets.
Since March, at least seven major grain-producing countries have restricted wheat exports, leaving a wide supply gap and fuelling prices which are 50% higher compared to the beginning of the year.
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