A spike in wheat exports has angered Indian farmers – The Diplomat

Farmers’ unions in northern India’s Punjab state are unhappy with Narendra Modi’s government. sudden ban on wheat exports The past month has hit farmers hard. Farmers in the Punjab, known as India’s breadbasket, were looking to capitalize on high world wheat prices due to the war in Ukraine. (The Russia-Ukraine region is the main supplier of wheat to world markets.) However, this did not lead to anything.

Modi governments unexpected reversal about wheat exports came within a month of high assurances from Minister of Food and Consumers Piyush Goyal. “Our farmers have achieved that not only India, but also the whole world cares aboutGoyal said in April.

With global markets in shock and world wheat prices skyrocketing, India is doing everything it can to defend its export ban. At the Ministerial Meeting on Food Security at the United Nations, India’s Associate Foreign Minister V. Muralidharan said that India “recognized the sudden surge in world wheat prices, which has endangered our food security, as well as the security of our neighbors and other vulnerable countries. . ”

course correction“According to experts, this was required due to an inaccurate assessment by the Ministry of Agriculture of its own wheat production. India’s wheat production this year could be below 100 million tons, a sharp drop from initial estimates of a record production of 111.3 million tons. In fact, India has made bold statements about increase in exports up to 10-15 million tons this fiscal year.

However, severe hot weather in march in northern India affected crop yields. What further alarmed the government was that its purchases of the wheat needed for its government distribution schemes were at an all-time low; hence the sudden slowdown in exports. Faced with intense international criticismgovernment of india relaxed restrictions for export to “vulnerable” countries in the neighborhood, including Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

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Sociologist Yogendra Yadav, leader of Jai Kisan Andolan, a farmers’ rights group, dismisses the government’s rationale for the ban. “Wheat prices collapsed after the export ban was announced, which meant losses for farmers has already suffered from heat waves that reduced crop yields,” Yadav said. “At the same time, the changes in the order to ban meant exporters can continue to export and profits (from high world wheat prices),” he added, accusing the Modi government of only looking after the interests of big business, corporations and mill owners, and not “ordinary farmers.”

Opposition parties have teamed up with farmers and opposed the government’s backlash. Shiromani chief Akali Dal and former Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal demanded an immediate lifting the export ban.

“The drop in demand will have a negative impact on the entire economy,” Badal said, adding that while “farmers and agricultural workers will be the hardest hit” by the decision, “no economic segment or any part of society will escape it.” negative short and long term consequences. He also asked why the government did not bail out farmers suffering losses, just as it had bailed out the manufacturing and industrial sectors.

The political consequences of the ban were swift. Farmers are a powerful lobby in an agrarian economy like India. A year-long intense agitation by farmers forced the Modi government repeal three agricultural laws last year.

Several parties, including the left and Congress, condemned the wheat ban, calling it “anti-farming.” Senior Congress leader and former finance minister P. Chidambaram told Hindu Business Line that the ban “deprives the farmer of the opportunity to take advantage of higher export prices. it anti-farming measure and I’m not surprised as this government has never been very farmer friendly.”

Farmers are already angry at the Modi government for not keeping promises made to them to force them to stop their protests; the wheat ban is another blow. Yadav said farmers will resume their campaign to increase the minimum support price (MSP) for all crops.

According to him, farmers are constantly demanding “ law guaranteeing a higher MSP based on actual costs. But their prayers fell on deaf ears. Not only did the government fail to withdraw the lawsuits against farmers, but it also failed to set up a committee to address the MSP issue. It is not surprising that the peasants decided to resume agitation.

Even if India’s argument about protecting its food security is understandable, a similar flip-flop outlined its earlier COVID-19 vaccination policy and also – the arrogant boast of supplying the world with the subsequent ban on exports.

According to journalist Suhasini Haidar, “the surge is undermining India’s international credibility”, which affects its global image and the power and influence it has on the world order.