Government reimposes wheat export ban; sets up panel on food security

The government today reimposed its ban on export of wheat from the country, retracting its earlier proposal to allow some shipments by state-run firms.

The government also announced the reconstitution of an empowered group of ministers (EGM) on food security as a precaution against a possible poor harvest due to insufficient monsoon rains.

The EGM's terms of reference include:

  • Issues relating to revision of central issue price (CIP) for wheat and rice;
  • Formulating strategy for procurement of foodgrains under the minimum support price (MSP) operations;
  • Management of central pool stocks of wheat and rice;
  • Framing policy for import, export and price management of edible oils;
  • Take further position (if required) regarding futures/options for wheat in global commodity exchange after assessing the demand-supply gap; and
  • Looking into issues relating to the proposed law on food security.

The GOM, headed by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, has agriculture minister Sharad Pawar, defence minister A K Antony, home minister P Chidambaram, railway minister Mamata Banerji, textiles minister Dayanidhi Maran, commerce minister Anand Sharma and rural development minister C P Joshi as members. Montek Singh Ahluwalia, deputy chairman of the planning commission would be the special invitee.

The government has decided to "rescind, with immediate effect", its 3 July order that allowed state firms MMTC Ltd, State Trading Corp and PEC to export 300,000 tonnes each, the Director General of Foreign Trade said on Monday.

The state-run firms have not so far shipped or contracted shipments of any wheat exports in the period as international prices of wheat had fallen far below Indian levels.