India aims to export 10 million tonne of wheat worth $4 billion in 2022-23


India is aiming to export a record 10 million tonne (MT) of wheat in 2022-23 amid rising global demand because of the Russia-Ukraine war.

“We are working with several other ministries – agriculture, railways, shipping — as well as exporters and state governments to increase our wheat exports significantly in the current fiscal,” Piyush Goyal, minister for commerce and industry, said on Sunday.

According to estimates by the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGF), India exported a record 7 MT of wheat in 2021-22 which was valued at $2.05 billion. Around 50% of the shipments were to Bangladesh in the last fiscal.

In 2022-23, India is likely to export wheat worth around $4 billion given that prices are expected to rise in the coming months to around $400 to $430 a tonne (inclusive of all costs), especially in North Africa and South-East Asia countries. The Current prices are in the range of $370-$380 a tonne.

Meanwhile, the commerce ministry has set up a task force on wheat exports with representatives from various ministries, including commerce, shipping and railways, and exporters.

Officials say given the geopolitical situation, the demand from those countries especially in South-East Asia and North Africa, which used to source wheat from Ukraine and Russia, which have around 25% share in the global wheat trade, would be robust in the coming months.

“We will be sending delegations with representatives of key ministries to countries in south-east Asia and North Africa to boost our wheat exports,” M Angamuthu, chairman, Agricultural and Processed Food Products Development Authority (APEDA) told FE.

The official delegation will be visiting countries including Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Turkey, Lebanon, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt and Morocco this month to boost wheat exports to these countries.

While the bulk of India’s wheat exports is currently sourced from Madhya Pradesh because of its proximity to the Kandla and Mundra ports, the commerce ministry is also discussing with the shipping ministry to commence exports of wheat from Nhava Sheva (Navi Mumbai, Maharashtra) and Kakinada (Andhra Pradesh) ports.

India has been the world’s largest rice exporter in the last decade — export earnings stood at a record $8.7 billion in 2020-21 and crossed $ 9.6 billion in 2021-22. But the country had been a relatively marginal player in global wheat trade until 2020-21.

The current wheat stocks with the Food Corporation of India (FCI) are now roughly three times the buffer norm and the ongoing rabi procurement will increase the stocks further. FCI has more than 23 MT of wheat stocks against a buffer norm of 7 MT.

Madhya Pradesh has recently announced a waiver of mandi fee and other levies aggregating 3.5% on grain purchases in the state, in a bid to increase wheat exports. The state is the second-biggest producer of wheat in the country. State chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has called a meeting of wheat exporters in Bhopal on Monday.