Global Food Crisis vs. India: Climate Change and Wheat Ban

Sevinç İrem BALCI

As the Russian-Ukrainian War continued, the global food crisis escalated, especially for the countries that import wheat from Ukraine. Therefore, they started to search for ways to supply wheat from other resources, and India was also one of them. India’s wheat production is the second after Ukraine, which equals 1% of the world. However, due to internal problems, India said it could provide wheat to the world. India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi claims India is capable of feeding the world and filling the gap created by the Ukraine war. India, the second-largest wheat producer globally, exported 8.2 million tonnes in the year to March 2022. The government claimed India could export anywhere between 10 and 15 million tonnes in the current fiscal year, which ends March 2023. So far, less than five million tonnes have been contracted for exports.

However, it turned out that India was unwilling to export her wheat to other countries due to internal food security problems, and India is also awaiting a climate crisis. In other words, India started to implement protectionism over their agricultural products. Therefore, this situation has created questions and dilemmas: Does India do the protectionism to make her products more valued, or is there a severe climate crisis shortly for India? While those questions are discussed, there is the fact that the bans have a political logic: Leaders do not want to be blamed for allowing staple commodities to be sold abroad at the expense of low-income consumers at home.

Besides the political reasons, there is a fact that India is facing a climate crisis as well. According to the latest data from the India Meteorological Department, Delhi has recorded a maximum temperature of at least 42C on 25 days since summer began – the highest number since 2012. The average summer temperature is usually 36-38C. In mid-May, the temperature shot up to 49C in some parts of the city. March was also the hottest in India since records began 122 years ago. The intense and prolonged heatwave has damaged the wheat crop and made conditions for people who work outside very difficult.

However, there are also views that India is using the wheat corps as a tool for diplomacy. In response to increased global demand for grain, India aims to produce a record 10 million tonnes of wheat in 2022-23. However, many people across the political spectrum were surprised by the ban’s rapid enactment. Experts say that nations frequently use trade and non-trade obstacles to adjust trade deficits and surpluses based on the price and quality of alternative supply sources. Balancing political connections with a country’s domestic demands is a delicate balancing act that the government’s trade and commerce arms aim to master.

As a result, it is still discussed the reasons why India applied a ban on wheat corps. While World Trade Organization (WTO) and United Nations (UN) complain about the wheat ban, since the question is urgent, the food crisis must be solved by cooperation.


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