- The crisis in Ukraine is putting about one-fifth of the world’s population at risk of famine.
- India is “ready to provide the repository of wheat for the world”.
- Indian exports to Russia have been reconnected and refilled empty Russian groceries with containers of goods.
Destructive food shortage
As estimated by the United Nations, the conflict in Ukraine is putting 1.7 billion people, about one-fifth of the world’s population, at risk of famine.
Russia is one of the major wheat exporters, accounting for about 5% of the world’s total wheat production. However, the military activities in Ukraine have disrupted the trade flow, sending wheat prices to record highs. In addition, the global market has become more complicated as crop failure in China and the US, along with the Russian grain export ban. Therefore, a lot of countries around the world will likely face famine, unless the Russian bans of exports of wheat are removed.
Can India feed the world?
Meanwhile, according to BBC, as an exchange with US President Joe Biden, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was determined that India has the ability to provide enough wheat for 1.4 billion people and the country is “ready to provide the repository of wheat for the world”, if the World Trade Organization (WTO) permits.
In the risk of rising global shortage, Indian traders contracted to export more than 3 million wheat between April and July. Their exports have hit a record of $50 billion in the period 2021-2022. As of early April 2022, India has 74 million tons of rice and wheat in stock. However, Harish Damodaran, Senior Fellow at the Center for Policy Research, said: “We have enough reserve at the moment. But India still has to face some concerns and we should not too willingly go overboard in feeding the world.”
Indian exports to Russia have been reconnected. The Economic Times reports that India’s exports have refilled empty Russian groceries with containers of goods including tea, rice, fruit, coffee, seafood and confectionery shipped last week.
FAO economist Upali Galketi Aratchilage commented: “The supply disruptions and Russian bans mean that these goods may not be exported as planned. Meanwhile, India can participate more in global exports, especially when it has enough wheat reserves.”