India has exported 1.8 million tonnes of wheat to a dozen countries, including Bangladesh and Afghanistan, since the country banned grain exports on May 13, according to Food Secretary Sudhanshu Pandey .

About 33,000 tonnes of wheat as humanitarian aid have already been provided to Afghanistan against the pledge of 50,000 tonnes, he said.

Mr Pandey, addressing a ministerial conference on “uniting for global food security” held in Berlin, Germany, on June 24, said India had always taken into consideration the needs of the world, even while fulfilling the onerous obligations of feeding its population of 1.38. billion people, according to an official statement.

The Secretary said: “It is important here to explain that the recent decision by the Government of India [GoI] imposing regulations on wheat exports was essentially taken to protect domestic availability as well as availability for vulnerable countries whose supplies cannot be assured by market forces.

India has nevertheless continued its commitment to meet the real needs of neighboring countries and food deficit countries through a government-to-government mechanism and also to meet the supply commitments already made, he said. declared.

“After the regulations until June 22 of this fiscal year, 1.8 million tons of wheat were shipped, almost four times compared to the previous year, to countries such as Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan , Israel, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nepal, Oman, Philippines, Qatar. , South Korea, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Switzerland, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, Vietnam and Yemen “, did he declare.

On May 13, the government suspended wheat exports with immediate effect. It upgraded the export of all varieties of wheat, including high-protein durum wheat, from the “free” category to the “prohibited” category. The decision was aimed at controlling rising wheat prices in the domestic market.

Also read: Is banning wheat exports good policy?

India exported a record 7 million tonnes of wheat in the financial year 2021-22, when typically the country exports around 2 million tonnes, or around 1% of the world’s wheat trade, did he declare.

Stating that India is keenly aware of its responsibilities towards the most vulnerable in various parts of the world, Mr. Pandey said the country was continuing to provide humanitarian aid, both through the supply of vaccines and consignments of food, during and beyond the pandemic.

For example, the country has sent several shipments of humanitarian aid to the Afghan people, including 33,000 tons of wheat out of a total commitment of 50,000 tons made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and continues to do so following the devastation caused by the earthquake a few days ago, he said.

During the pandemic, India has also provided food aid in the form of wheat, rice, pulses and lentils to several countries around the world including Afghanistan, Comoros, Djibouti, Eritrea, Lebanon, Madagascar , Malawi, Maldives, Myanmar, Sierra Leone, Sudan. , South Sudan, Syria, Zambia, Zimbabwe and others, to boost their food security, he said.

During the Covid pandemic, India embarked on what can be described as the largest food support scheme in the world to cover nearly 810 million people.

“Even today, more than two years after our beginnings, we continue to provide food support to these vulnerable people who represent the equivalent of the population of Europe and the United States combined. To ensure legitimate targeting, the entire system was run on a massive technology platform that was biometrically authenticated,” he said.

Stating that India recognized the efforts made by the UN Secretary-General to improve global food security, the Secretary said the country also welcomed the recommendation of the Task Force of the Response Group to the global crisis to exempt food purchases by the World Food Program for humanitarian aid from food export restrictions with immediate effect.

“We have also underlined the importance of similar exemptions being granted to all Member States and relevant stakeholders contributing to this global humanitarian effort,” he said.

Mr. Pandey further said that the COVID-19 pandemic has severely affected global food security, which has been further exacerbated by recent geopolitical developments and the impact of climate change.

He also shared that the world is now facing rising costs of food, fertilizer and fuel. Countries of the South, developing countries and least developed countries, as well as the most vulnerable countries in the world, have been particularly disproportionately affected.

“Recent developments have highlighted the urgent need to develop resilient and uninterrupted food supply chains, in order to ensure both food security and nutritional security, in times of natural calamities induced by climate change, global pandemics and conflicts around the world,” he said.

He added that India was making a real effort to take a holistic approach to agriculture and make it more sustainable, including through effective water and soil management, and improving crop diversity. and production practices.

Digital technology is now playing an important role in empowering Indian farmers through crop valuation and digitization of land records. Post-harvest infrastructure has also been strengthened, including through the establishment of a ₹1 trillion agricultural infrastructure fund as well as the establishment of a ₹35 trillion cold chain storage capacity. tonnes in recent years and a program with a capacity of 12 million tonnes for the construction of silos. .

Sustainable food processing technologies are being adopted to reduce the overall carbon footprint, including through the adoption of waste utilization, resource recovery and circular economy in the food industry, it said. -he adds.