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Will India emerge as key global player in wheat after sanctions on Russia?

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India and its role in global food security

India’s role in maintaining food security on the global stage could significantly increase if it succeeds in expanding its marketshare of wheat. New Delhi is already the largest exporter of rice. With the US and European Union slapping sanctions against Russia, wheat supplies have become uncertain leading to high prices. Sources said that several countries have already approached domestic exporters in India though concrete deals are yet to be inked.

“India’s wheat production is sufficient to take care of its own markets which also includes the public distribution system for the poorer section of the people. There is enough stock to take care of the domestic market and then go for exports,” Anil Monga, managing director, Emmsons International that deals in trading of agro products told India Narrative. 

Under the National Food Security Act, more than 800 million people get subsidised foodgrains per head per month.

Monga also said that surplus stocks of the previous years are also lying with the Food Corporation of India (FCI).

Farmers are expected to start supplying their produce to the mandis by the end of the month. India has already exported a record 7 mt of wheat in the current financial year.

Also read: Concerns over food insecurity rise for many countries as Russia-Ukraine war rumbles

Sources indicated that the Centre’s procurement of wheat is expected to be significantly less in the new financial year thereby reducing the country’s food subsidy bill.

Meanwhile, this financial year (April to March) India’s non basmati rice exports stand at 17 million tonnes compared to 13.06 million tonnes in the previous fiscal.

“Our non basmati rice exports have jumped though the basmati rice supplies have remained subdued due to various issues including logistics problems,” Vinod Kaul, senior executive director, All India Rice Exporters’ Association said. India’s exports of rice have increased to countries including China, Bangladesh and several in Africa. Besides, 80 per cent of Basmati rice is being shipped to West Asian countries. India has also exported 1.1 mt of rice – primarily broken variety to China.

According to S&P Global, “Indian rice has come from representing less than 1 per cent of Chinese rice imports in 2020 to representing 23 per cent so far in 2021, making it the largest supplier of rice to China.”