US Reporter

Heatwave in India causes low production; authorities ban wheat exports


Indian wheat farmers have been suffering from a heatwave which has caused production to drop. As a result, the Indian government announced a ban on all wheat exports until local prices recover.

Authorities announced late evening Friday, hours after local markets had seen an unprecedented rise due mainly to the decreased turnout of local wheat production.

India is a country that exports millions of tonnes of wheat every year. The market extends throughout the globe, and many international dealers depend on their exports. The country is considered the second-largest wheat exporter in the world.

The recent happenings in the nation have given authorities a much greater concern for food security and price stability. As such, the shipping of almost several tonnes of wheat was called off.

The Indian government has said they will still honor the exports that their dealers have already issued before the ban. They are also planning to continue shipping wheat to countries that need it the most.

As the second-largest wheat exporter in the world, many depend on India for the supply. This is amid the current conflict between Russia and Ukraine affecting the supply chain.

Wheat prices in India have been on an upward trend now, with the latest rise being particularly steep. The government’s fixed minimum price remains at 20,150 Rupees per tonne, but many markets sell it above that amount — at 25,000 Rupees or $322 — due to the low turnout of the crop’s yield.

To a Mumbai-based dealer, the ban imposed by Indian authorities will affect the plan of the country’s wheat market to curb the high demand for exports within 2-3 months.

Wheat ‘shrink’ after the heatwave in India

The India Meteorological Department has reported an increase in average temperature in many parts of the country — with several areas reaching 8 degrees Celcius above average. As per the weather bureau, a heatwave is declared if the average temperature exceeds 4 degrees Celsius above normal.

India was gripped by a heatwave that has caused crop production problems. This year’s March temperatures were among those recorded the highest — the warmest since 1901. Local producers expect the warm months of the summer season — April, May, and June. However, the intense heat came early in March. This has posed threats to the local production of wheat.

The Indian Institute of Technology’s Water and Climate Lab has seen an increase in the number of states hit by heatwaves — with it only going up every year. Experts warn that these events will become more frequent and may lead to catastrophic consequences. Vimal Mishra of IIT-WCL said that these occurrences will be “unavoidable.”

India had planned to send delegations abroad in order to explore export opportunities. They were looking at Morocco, Indonesia, Tunisia, and the Philippines, but the plan was paused because of the heatwave that caused significant damage to wheat production in the country.

Farmers harvested lower volumes of wheat following the heatwave — saying that the crops “shrunk.” Market prices drastically went upward as supplies went down. The government immediately responded with the ban to ease the prices and prevent further panic from buyers.

Buyers and dealers are hopeful that the ban will not be long as they depend heavily on India to supply wheat demand in their respective countries.

Opinions expressed by US Reporter contributors are their own.