India Halts Wheat Exports Following Heatwave

As the U.S. and the world are dealing with an ongoing supply chain crisis, India has announced that it is halting all wheat exports as the result of a severe heatwave. India is the world’s second-largest producer of the staple crop.

India’s directorate of foreign trade said on Friday that the nation’s food security was threatened by the sharp rise in global wheat prices, which have increased more than 40% so far this year. The Indian government is reportedly acting to control rising inflation affecting food prices inside the country.

Before Russia began its invasion of neighboring Ukraine in February, those two nations provided a third of all global exports of wheat and barley. After Russian President Vladimir Putin began the ongoing invasion, Ukrainian ports have been blocked and grain silos and other agricultural infrastructure have been destroyed or disrupted.

Additionally, many Western nations have initiated severe economic sanctions against Russian exports.

As Russian and Ukrainian production and exports have been crippled by war, India experienced much lower grain production than expected due to record heat.

While India is the second-largest producer of wheat globally, most of its production is consumed domestically by its immense population. The Indian government had established a goal of 10 million tons of grain exports for 2022-2023, expecting to capitalize on increased global demand as a result of the Ukrainian war.

Before the heatwave intervened, Indian agriculture producers were establishing new export markets in Europe, Asia, and Africa. Because of the losses in production, the countries expected to be most directly affected include Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines.

India’s inventory of domestic wheat and barley was partially depleted during the COVID-19 pandemic. Stored grain has long been a safety buffer against food shortages for the 800 million residents of the country.

Government programs in India feed around 80 million people each year. Those efforts require around 25 million tons of domestically produced grain.

As of 2019, the U.S. was the world’s fifth largest producer of wheat, growing around 51 million tons annually.