International Monetary Fund chief Kristalina Georgieva on Tuesday pleaded with India to reconsider its decision to ban wheat exports, given the South Asian nation's crucial role in ensuring global food security and stability.
“I do have appreciation for the heatwave that has reduced agricultural productivity, but I would beg India to reconsider as soon as possible because the more countries step into export restrictions, the more others would be tempted to do so,” Ms Georgieva told India's NDTV channel at the World Economic Forum in Davos in Switzerland. “We would end up as a global community less equipped to deal with the crisis.”
While India, in the wake of the Russia-Ukraine war, had planned to increase exports to meet the global wheat shortage, in mid-May it imposed a ban on overseas shipments of the grain after a severe heatwave resulted in crop damage and raised fears of a domestic shortage.
It did, however, exempt government-to-government deals.
India is the world's biggest wheat producer after China but exports only small quantities of the grain.
Last year, India produced 109 million tonnes of wheat with exports reaching seven million tonnes.
The government was expecting a bumper harvest of 111 million tonnes and planned to export 10 million tonnes, but the intense heat during the harvest season dropped the yield to 106.41 million tonnes, agriculture ministry data showed.
Russia and Ukraine together account for almost a quarter of global wheat production but the war in the region has disrupted supplies, causing a global shortage and an increase in prices.
The global food crisis prompted India on Wednesday to also limit sugar exports to 10 million tonnes this year.
The government said the move was precautionary and aimed at securing supplies and preventing an increase in domestic prices.
The South Asian nation last year was the biggest exporter of sugar after Brazil.