India has exported 1.8 million tons of wheat to a dozen countries, including Bangladesh and Afghanistan, since the country banned the grain on May 13, said Food Minister Sudhanshu Pandey. About 33,000 tons of wheat as humanitarian aid has already been delivered to Afghanistan against the pledge of 50,000 tons, he said.
Pandey said at a ministerial conference on “uniting for global food security” held on June 24 in Berlin, Germany, that India has always kept the world’s needs in mind, even while meeting strenuous commitments to support its population of 1 .38 billion people to feed , according to an official statement.
The Secretary said: “It is important to explain here that the recent decision by the Government of India (Council) to bring about regulation of wheat exports was taken essentially to protect domestic availability, as well as the availability for vulnerable countries to which delivery cannot be guaranteed due to market forces.” India has nevertheless continued its commitment to meet the real needs of neighboring and food-deficient countries through a government-to-government mechanism and also to fulfill commitments already made, he said.
“After the regulation until June 22 of this fiscal year, 1.8 million tons of wheat have been shipped, almost four times the previous year to countries such as Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Israel, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nepal, Oman, the Philippines , Qatar. , South Korea, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Switzerland, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, Vietnam and Yemen,” he said.
On May 13, the government suspended wheat exports with immediate effect. It moved exports of all types of wheat, including protein-rich durum, from “free” to the “banned” category. The decision was aimed at controlling rising wheat prices in the domestic market.
India had exported a record 7 million tons of wheat during fiscal year 2021-22, while the country typically exports about 2 million tons, which is about 1 percent of the global wheat trade, he said.
Pandey stated that India is very aware of its responsibilities towards the most vulnerable in different parts of the world, and said the country has continued to provide humanitarian aid, both through the delivery of vaccines and food shipments, during and after the pandemic.
For example, the country has sent several shipments of humanitarian aid to the Afghan people, including 33,000 tons of wheat, with a total pledge of 50,000 tons by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and is still doing so after the devastation caused by the earthquake a few days ago, he said.
During the pandemic, India has also provided food aid in the form of wheat, rice, pulses and lentils to several countries around the world including Afghanistan, Comoros, Djibouti, Eritrea, Lebanon, Madagascar, Malawi, Maldives, Myanmar, Sierra Leone, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria, Zambia, Zimbabwe and others, to bolster their food security, he said.
During the COVID pandemic, India started what can be described as the world’s largest ever food support system to cover nearly 810 million people.
“Even today, more than two years after we started, we continue to provide food aid to these vulnerable people equal to the population of Europe and the United States combined. To ensure legitimate targeting, the entire system ran on a massive technology platform that was biometrically verified,” he said.
While stating that India has recognized the UN Secretary-General’s efforts to improve global food security, the secretary said the country also welcomed the recommendation of the Global Crisis Response Group Task Team to limit food purchases by exempt the World Humanitarian Food Program from food export restrictions with immediate effect.
“We also stressed the importance of granting similar waivers to all member states and relevant stakeholders contributing to this global humanitarian effort,” he said.
Pandey went on to say that the COVID-19 pandemic has had serious implications for global food security, which has been further exacerbated by recent geopolitical developments and the impact of climate change. He also said that the world is now faced with rising costs of food, fertilizer and fuel. The South, developing and least developed countries and the world’s most vulnerable have been disproportionately affected.
“Recent developments have highlighted the urgent need to develop resilient and uninterrupted food supply chains, to ensure both food security and nutrition security, in times of climate change-induced natural disasters, global pandemics and conflicts around the world,” he said.
He went on to say that India is making a genuine effort to take a holistic approach to agriculture and make it more sustainable, including through effective water and soil management and improving crop diversity and production practices.
Digital technology now plays an important role in empowering farmers in India through crop evaluation and digitization of land registrations. Post-harvest infrastructure has also been strengthened, including through the establishment of a Rs 1 trillion agricultural infrastructure fund, as well as the establishment of a 35 million tons cold chain storage capacity in recent years and a 12 million tons capacity program for the construction of silos .
Sustainable food processing technologies are being applied to reduce the overall carbon footprint, including through the use of waste, resource recovery and circular economy in the food industry, he added.