India limits wheat flour exports amid global cereal crisis

Restrictions on wheat flour, semolina and wholemeal flour will be imposed from July 12

Sacks of refined wheat flour at a mill in India's Punjab state, May 2022. AFP
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India on Thursday imposed restrictions on the export of wheat flour, two months after it banned wheat exports to secure domestic supplies amid a global cereals crisis caused by the war in Ukraine.

The restrictions apply to wheat flour, semolina and wholemeal flour, according to the Directorate General of Foreign Trade, which formulates and implements foreign trade policy.

“Global supply disruptions in wheat and wheat flour has created new players and led to price fluctuations and potential quality-related issues. Therefore, it is imperative to maintain the quality of wheat flour exports from India,” the DGFT said.

“Export policy of wheat flour remains 'free', but export shall be subject to recommendation of the inter-ministerial committee on export of wheat,” it said.

The government will allow the export of wheat consignments that have been loaded until July 12, as well as those that were handed over to customs authorities before the notification was issued.

India's government banned the export of wheat in May, anticipating a threat to the food security of its 1.3 billon population because of the disruption to global supplies caused by Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February.

The countries together account for almost a quarter of the global wheat supply.

Wheat is the main cereal crop in India, which is the world's second-biggest producer after China.

India produced 109 million tonnes of wheat in the 2020-2021 fiscal year, and exported seven million tonnes of wheat in 2021, according to DGFT figures.

India in April announced plans to fill the global wheat shortage by increasing exports. Prime Minister Narendra Modi offered help to “feed the world” during a visit to Europe.

But the government banned wheat exports the following month after a severe heatwave damaged crops, triggering a domestic shortage and pushing up prices.

India has, however, exported 1.8 million tonnes of wheat to about a dozen countries since then as humanitarian assistance, including to Afghanistan.

Updated: July 07, 2022, 2:51 PM