Global Food Crisis and India!
Global Food Crisis and India!
By- Aditi Maheshwari
Food insecurity globally has a horrific human cost. Russia and Ukraine are largest exporters of wheat on the world map, accounting for 30% of total wheat sale. The ongoing Russia – Ukraine war has amplified the food crisis and shall leave its effects for years to come. Ukraine’s ports of Odesa, Chornomorsk and others have been cut off from the world by Russian invasion rendering the supply disrupted. Before the invasion Ukraine exported 4.5 million tonnes of agricultural produce per month through its ports. Most of the wheat shipments pass through Black Sea, which is a battle ground currently with Russian warships stationed there. Result being shortages and inflation.
In April 2022, India made a record export of 1.4 million tonnes of wheat. Exports were made to South Asia, Southeast Asia, Africa, Europe, West Asia averting a global food crisis. New purchases were witnessed when Egypt and Turkey, who never bought Indian wheat placed their orders to India. Turkey has ordered 50000 tonnes of Indian wheat. Indian farmers are elated with their products reaching global markets. Africa and West Asia are the most attractive markets for India, as these countries are looking for cheap, good quality wheat and India fulfils both their needs. However, the concern is whether India can sustain this demand and supply chain. An intense heat wave is sweeping India, affecting wheat production. India was expecting to produce 111 million tonnes of wheat by June. That forecast got slashed and the latest figure now is 105 million tonnes. Another concerning factor is price. Wheat prices have risen 15-20% in the last few weeks. As per AFP report the price of wheat has jumped to 435 Euros ($453) per tonne as the European market opened. Global wheat prices have risen, mainly due to fear of food shortage. Fertiliser shortages and poor harvests have also promoted global inflation and created fears of famine and social unrest in poorer countries.
Wheat is the second most consumed food grain in India after rice. So, Wheat if expensive will affects us all. However, there is no immediate wheat crisis in India, but we can’t discount the risk as India has more than millions of people to feed. Yet, its exporting wheat to avert the global food crisis.
Well, the fact is India has its own limits. After India banned the export of wheat, western countries criticized the move. India on18th May called out the west and said that food grains should not meet the fate of the Covid shots hoarding, media reports said. Because of unreasonable increase in wheat prices, the restriction on wheat exports was initiated with a cause that only genuine people affected by such crisis are nourished and taken care of. Mitigating this crisis, especially affecting the truly vulnerable group, is India’s priority and a balanced approach while addressing hoarding and inflation issues. India needs to take care of its people and climate costs also need to be accounted for. Due to the intense heat wave electricity demand is quiet high leading the country to import additional coal to keep its power grid going. This has an economic cost, which will ripple beyond the subcontinent.
Despite rendering a helping hand to avert global food crisis, we witness double standards of the West. Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan said, “Several low-income societies are confronted with twin challenges of rising costs and difficulty in accessing food grains. Unjustified increase in wheat prices has put India’s and its neighbours and other vulnerable countries food security at risk. It is necessary for us all to appreciate the importance of equity, affordability and accessibility when it comes to food grains. We have already seen to our great costs how these principles were disregarded in case of Covi-19vaccines”.
Countries need to rethink their approach to dealing with crisis and shall be individually as well as collectively responsible to safeguard one and all from disasters.
Pic Courtesy: iStock