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Why Did India Ban Wheat Exports? Will It Affect Markets?

While some say that the wheat export ban is harsh on farmers, others believe it is needed to curb rising prices.

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After a temporary but complete ban on wheat exports, India announced some relaxations on 18 May.

The surprise decision had led to a lot of chaos as hundreds of thousands tonnes of wheat were reportedly left stranded at Gujarat’s Kandla Port after the ban was announced.

But the new notification from the Ministry of Commerce has said, "It has been decided that wherever wheat consignments have been handed over to Customs for examination and have been registered into their systems on or prior to 13.5.2022, such consignments would be allowed to be exported."

Explaining its rationale behind prohibiting the export of wheat, the central government had said that it was committed to providing for the food security of India as well as other vulnerable countries that had been adversely affected by sudden disruptions in the global market for wheat.

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But in the aftermath of the ban, as the wheat prices soared to a record high, the ban drew criticism from G7 nations, which said that such moves would "worsen the crisis" of rising commodity prices.

But even back at home the jury is divided. While some are of the opinion that such a ban can impact India’s credibility and is also harsh on farmers who could profit from the higher export prices, others say that it is needed to curb the rising prices in the country as severe heatwaves have damaged crops.

But to better understand the rationale behind the export ban and its likely implications on domestic and foreign markets, I spoke to Deepanshu Mohan, Associate Professor and Director at the Centre for New Economics Studies at the Jindal School of Liberal Arts and Humanities.

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