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Farmers and traders seek lifting of wheat export ban amid rural distress

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Farmers and traders seek lifting of wheat export ban amid rural distress

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Long lines of trucks filled with wheat stuck with grain meant for export is just a reflection of the frustration that is being felt by farmers and traders who say this 'out of the blue' ban was not needed and will hurt rural incomes. Unprecedented heat, the hottest in 122 years, has already led to a fall in grain output as ready to harvest wheat shrivels in the heat. Hopes of recouping the loss from higher export prices are also now disappearing.

Long lines of trucks filled with wheat stuck with grain meant for export is just a reflection of the frustration that is being felt by farmers and traders who say this 'out of the blue' ban was not needed and will hurt rural incomes.
Former Secretary of Finance Subhash Chandra Garg speaking to CNBC-TV18 said, “Government's U-turn on wheat exports is baffling and doesn't speak well of our policy. India was expecting a record production of 113 million tonne. India could have secured an upside for its farmers.”
Unprecedented heat, the hottest in 122 years, has already led to a fall in grain output as ready to harvest wheat shrivels in the heat. Hopes of recouping the loss from higher export prices are also now disappearing.
The price of wheat in the international market is topping Rs 2400 per 100 kgs while the MSP set by the government stands at Rs 2015 per 100 kgs.
Some farmers in Punjab have incurred a loss of Rs 20,000-25,000 per acre.
Wheat farmer Jagtar Singh said, “The produce should have been nearly 25 quintals but it is only at 12-13 quintals now. Wheat does well in colder climate. Farmers are struggling with losses and have committed suicides.”
Pushan Sharma, Director at CRISIL Research said, “The ban is having an impact on prices that farmers will fetch. They have yield loss, cost of cultivation is increasing and they won't get benefit of decadal high wheat prices. MSP is 8-10 percent lower than the price at which wheat was trading prior to the ban. So there is going to be a decline in farmer income.”
As per estimates from trader associations, around 7000 trucks and over 20 lakh tonnes of wheat were stuck across ports over the weekend. While the government has allowed export of consignments handed over to customs on or before May 13, there is no clarity on what happens to over 40,000 metric tonnes of wheat that traders do not have letters of credit (LC) for.
Mohit Upadhyay, Partner at HMV Agro said, “Stock that has already come in will be handed over to custom authorities as it was under LC and was about to be shipped. If we have to take rest of the trucks back to sell elsewhere, the loss will be Rs 1.5-2 lakh per truck.”
With a 20 million tonne buffer there is more than adequate wheat in the government's coffers but rising prices of staples has the central government watching like a hawk.
The all-India monthly average retail price of wheat flour was Rs 32.38 per kg in April 2022 which is the highest since January 2010. And as imported inflation from fuel to cooking continues, the government hopes to maintain stability for the basics. But the traders and farmers are now reaching out to the authorities hoping to plant a plan for letting global wheat sales continue.
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