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Asia Minute: India’s ban on exports is sending global wheat prices higher

FILE - An Indian farmer carries wheat crop harvested from a field on the outskirts of Jammu, India, April 28, 2022. (AP Photo/Channi Anand, File)
Channi Anand/AP

War and a record heatwave have pushed prices higher for another food staple: wheat. Over the weekend, India made a surprise announcement — and the impact has already been felt around the world.

India will no longer be putting its wheat on world markets.

On Saturday, India’s government announced it was banning the export of wheat.

Record heat has been scorching all of South Asia for more than a month — and India’s wheat crop has become a casualty.

The Times of India reports at least 10 to 15% of the wheat crop has been destroyed in the north — the country’s most productive region for the grain.

This comes on top of disruptions to wheat exports from Ukraine and Russia.

The news immediately pushed prices higher on global markets — where it’s already become more expensive since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Bloomberg reports the price of wheat is currently more than 60% higher than it was at the start of the year.

Those higher costs are moving through to prices of everything from bread to ramen noodles.

In a statement, India’s Food Ministry said the export ban should “control inflationary expectations” for the domestic market.

According to the nonpartisan organization World Population Review, India is the world’s second-largest producer of wheat — trailing only China.

When it comes to exports of wheat, Russia usually tops the list — followed by the European Union, Australia, Canada and the United States.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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