To prevent the sharp rise in domestic wheat prices, the government has restricted exports of maida, semolina and all variants of wheat flour (atta) from August 14. Their exports will be allowed subject to clearance from the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) on Wheat Exports, according to an official order by the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT).
Last month, the Centre restricted the export of plain atta amid the global supply disruptions in wheat. The DGFT had said, “Global supply disruptions in wheat and wheat flour have created many new players and has led to price fluctuations and potential quality-related issues. Therefore, it is imperative to maintain the quality of wheat flour exports from India.”
In its latest order dated August 8, 2022, the DGFT, a commerce ministry arm that deals with export- and import-related matters, said, “During the periods from August 8 to August 14 the following consignments of Maida Suji and will be allowed to be exported i) where loading on the ship has commenced before this notification, ii) in cases where the consignment has been handed over to the Customs before this notification and is registered in their system.”
The order said that free export of all items is subject to the recommendation of the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) constituted for allowing export of wheat. “Export of all shipments approved by the IMC shall be allowed subject to the issuance of quality certificate by the export inspection council (EIC) or its EIAs at Delhi, Mumbai, Chenna, and Kolkata.”
“The export policy of items [wheat flour (atta), Maida, Samolina (Rava/ Sirgi), wholemeal atta and resultant atta] under HS Code 1101 remains ‘Free’, but export shall be subject to the recommendation of the inter-ministerial committee (IMC) constituted for allowing export of wheat. The provisions as under Para 1.05 of the Foreign Trade Policy 2015-20 regarding transitional arrangement shall not be applicable under this Notification. Necessary modalities with regard to quality of these items will be notified separately,” according to the order.
Wheat prices in India recently rose about 14 per cent in one and a half month. It was because of the high demand from millers who will make products like maida, biscuits, flour and suji, and supply issues due to the monsoon season. The price of mill-delivered wheat in the country’s northern region rose from a low of Rs 2,260-2,270 a quintal in June to Rs 2,300-2,350 recently.
Traders said big companies and traders are holding their stocks and expecting the price to rise, whereas small farmers and traders have already sold out their stocks. For the first time this year, wheat from state-owned Food Corporation of India (FCI) is not available for the millers.
In May, the government had also banned the export of wheat with immediate effect, to control food prices in the domestic market. The daily average retail price of wheat had then increased 19.34 per cent to Rs 29.49 per kg, compared with Rs 24.71 per kg a year ago.
India’s wheat flour exports rose sharply in FY22 in tandem with wheat exports. In FY22, India exported a record over 7 million tonnes of wheat, worth around $2.12 billion, which in value terms was 274 per cent more than the same period last year.