India is not the only country to restrict the export of wheat in the wake of a global demand supply mismatch that is driving food prices across nations. At least half a dozen countries have already announced some sort of restrictive measures and more are planning to do so, government officials say. Argentina, Kazakhstan, Hungary, Turkey and the conflict zones that created the crisis, Russia and Ukraine are among the nations where some restrictions are already in place.

Argentina, for instance, had set a 10 million tonne limit for wheat exports as early as March 2022 itself. In April, Kazakhstan announced quotas for wheat and wheat flour exports. While the quota for wheat is one million tonnes, wheat flour exports cannot exceed 300,000 tonnes. Hungary is known to have introduced a registration requirement for export of wheat and several other agricultural produce for keeping track of the volumes that get exported and restrict its movement if there is a need to ensure domestic food security. In the case of Bulgaria, its government has decided to augment its public stock holding thereby making fewer volumes available in the open market for exports. Turkey had also imposed temporary export bans on select agricultural products to stabilise local market conditions and keep prices from running higher in March itself. The restrictions covered grains, oilseeds, cooking oil, etc. With wheat prices going up to $480 a tonne in the international markets, several other countries are also looking to take actions to ensure enough food supplies for internal consumption, officials said.

Incidentally, India's decision to restrict export of wheat was also influenced by the downward revision in its wheat production forecast. The latest estimates say that due to early summer, the country's wheat production may be 105 million tonnes, and not 111 million tonnes as estimated earlier.

In a presentation on India's food grain scenario, the Department of Food and Public Distribution said that India's expected wheat procurement in 2022-23 will be approximately 19.5 million tonnes, lower than 43.3 million tonnes procured during 2021-22.

The ministry officials pointed out that wheat crops are coming under threat almost everywhere due to extreme climate conditions. "In European Union crops in half the wheat belt lack rain at the onset of a key development period and temperatures in top grower France have soared to summer like levels unseasonably early leading to possibility of lower production. The dryness plaguing the US central plains may result in lower output. The war will curb Ukraine's wheat production," the ministry presentation points out.

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