India eyes rise in wheat exports amid Russia-Ukraine conflict

By Pankaj Yadav (Xinhua) 10:20, May 05, 2022

NEW DELHI, May 4 (Xinhua) -- India is expected to export more wheat grains to international markets due to the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict.

The prevailing situation is proving a boon for Indian farmers, who are getting a better price for their crops than in previous years. Payments are more prompt, with private players picking up their crops directly from the fields.

Wheat output overall has risen, and demand for Indian wheat has also grown. Additionally, Indian wheat is cheaper than other countries, say experts.

"Indian traders have signed wheat export deals at between 330-350 U.S. dollars a tonne. This is nearly 50 U.S. dollars a tonne cheaper than rival suppliers as the rally in global prices and large surplus stocks at home have made it easier for Indian suppliers to offer a discount, but still well above domestic prices," a media report quoted a New Delhi-based trader Rajesh Paharia Jain as saying.

Traders opine that India's wheat exports could jump to 12 million tonnes in the financial year 2022-23, thus making it a serious player in the world's wheat markets.

India's wheat exports have seen a record surge this fiscal year, and the federal Ministry of Commerce and Industry has asked wheat traders to scale up shipments to avert global supply chain disruptions.

According to sources in the ministry, India is in discussions with various countries to commence wheat exports.

Indian wheat exports witnessed a massive surge of 387 percent to 1.74 billion dollars from April 2021 to January 2022 compared to the previous year.

India was the second-largest producer of wheat in 2020, with a share of around 14.14 percent of the world's total production. Still, India accounts for less than one percent of the world's wheat exports, although its share has increased from 0.14 percent in 2016 to 0.54 percent in 2020.

According to official figures, India produces around 107.59 million metric tonnes of wheat annually. A significant chunk of it goes towards domestic consumption. The major wheat-growing states in India are Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar and Gujarat.

This year wheat production is expected to rise to 110 million Metric Tonnes, according to one survey.

Although India is not among the top wheat exporters in global trade, its growth rate has surpassed other countries, indicating the rapid strides taken to reach new markets worldwide.

According to a report published in the Economic Times, following a bumper harvest of wheat this season, India's exports are helping offset a supply shortfall resulting from "Ukraine-driven disruptions in the Black Sea region, crop cuts in Canada and quality downgrades in Australia."

As India hopes to see a rise in wheat exports, the country could be in a position to replace the depleted wheat supplies expected from both Ukraine and Russia, which account for more than 25 percent of the global wheat trade. Both Russia and Ukraine are among the world's top wheat exporters.

"Disruption of exports from these countries does provide India an opportunity to increase our export of wheat," India's Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal said in March.

In March, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi also urged stakeholders to prepare themselves to meet the growing demand for wheat.

"The globe's attraction towards India's wheat has increased of late. Are our financial institutions, export-import department and the shipping industry ready for this? Are they making comprehensive attempts to cash-in on the big opportunity that has arisen for India," Modi said.

According to the Directorate General of Commercial Intelligence and Statistics, the top 10 importing countries for Indian wheat in 2020-21 were Bangladesh, Nepal, United Arab Emirates, Sri Lanka, Yemen, Afghanistan, Qatar, Indonesia, Oman and Malaysia. They accounted for more than 99 percent of India's wheat exports in 2020-21. 

(Web editor: Peng Yukai, Liang Jun)


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