AAgriculture Minister Cem Özdemir (Greens) strongly criticized the Indian embargo on wheat exports. “We all have a responsibility vis-à-vis the rest of the world, in particular the major exporting countries”, he declared in Stuttgart after the meeting with his counterparts from the group of industrialized countries of the G- 7. “I take a very critical view of this,” he said, referring to New Delhi’s decision.
According to the wishes of the heads of departments, the heads of state and government of the G-7 should now discuss the issue, as Özdemir reported. India will be invited to the summit meeting at Elmau Castle in Bavaria at the end of June. Germany is currently leading the group of states.
According to host Özdemir, the G7 is generally opposed to export bans. “We ask that the markets remain open.” According to Özdemir, the G7 wants to monitor the prices of production and foodstuffs, for example fertilizers, more closely than before. To this end, the agricultural information system of the G-20 group of industrialized and emerging countries should be strengthened.
India had earlier imposed an immediate ban on wheat exports, fueling concerns of impending starvation across the world due to the war in Ukraine. The government of the world’s second-largest wheat producer announced on Saturday that the export ban was aimed at curbing rising prices in its own country.
India indeed wished to sell on the world market a record quantity of approximately ten million tons of wheat this year. An unusually early heatwave with temperatures well above 40 degrees in India had recently fueled concerns over a poor harvest.
“The ban is shocking”
The export ban now risks pushing up prices on the world market, as millions of tonnes of wheat are missing there due to the war in Ukraine and the lack of deliveries from the Black Sea region. results. This would particularly affect the poorest countries in Asia and Africa. India said on Saturday that existing supply contracts would be fulfilled and countries that would otherwise have to worry about “food security” would also be supplied. However, the export of additional quantities will be stopped.
According to the United Nations, nearly 25 million tonnes of grain already harvested cannot leave the country due to the war in Ukraine. Moreover, the future harvest cannot be maintained at the previous level. This drives up the prices. In Germany, for example, wheat imports increased by around 65% in March in one year.
Federal Agriculture Minister Cem Özdemir on Friday accused Russia of using hunger as a weapon of war. This applies in Ukraine, but also throughout the world, since Ukraine alone provides half of the cereals of the World Food Programme. Federal Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) warned on Saturday that up to 50 million people in Africa and the Middle East were also at risk of starvation as a result of the crisis.
Place moved for security reasons
“The ban is shocking,” said a Mumbai-based worker at a global grain trader of India’s recent move. Of course, the government had also reacted to the high rate of inflation. As in other countries, prices in India have not only risen significantly for cereals due to the sharp increase in fuel, labor and transport costs. In addition, the heat wave caused the first bad harvests.
As recently as February, the government had forecast a production of over 111 million tonnes, which would have been the sixth record harvest in a row. In May, the forecast was capped at 105 million, and traders do not rule out that farmers will ultimately harvest less than 100 million tonnes. According to the government, the export ban is also an act of caution. The state buys more of the crop in India every year in order to give the grain to the poorer sections of the population.
Another concern led to the fact that Federal Agriculture Minister Cem Özdemir (Greens) and his counterparts had to change the conference venue to Stuttgart at short notice for security reasons. There were fears the event could be disrupted at the original location, a police spokeswoman told the German Press Agency on Saturday.
Among other things, an announced tractor rally in the immediate vicinity of Hohenheim Castle, south of the state capital, played a role. The spokeswoman said farmers with about two dozen tractors gathered in Hohenheim in the morning.
Özdemir and the G-7 counterparts began their meeting Friday at Hohenheim Castle, which houses parts of Hohenheim University. The vast palace complex is located within a publicly accessible university and park complex. The place where department heads met on Saturday initially remained open.