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

India’s role in maintaining food security on the global stage could significantly increase if it succeeds in expanding its market share 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.

Under the National Food Security Act, more than 800 million people get subsidised foodgrains per head per month. Surplus stocks of the previous years are also lying with the Food Corporation of India (FCI). 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.

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

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 million tonnes 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.”

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