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No need to import wheat before August, says food secretary

India’s ban to have no effect in short term, she assures


Published : 14 May 2022 10:02 PM

India’s ban on export of wheat will not affect 3 lakh metric tonnes of wheat already contracted for import by Bangladesh.

Talking to UNB, Secretary to the Food Ministry Dr. Mosammat Nazmunara Khanum said a third of the amount, 1 lakh MT, is already onboard a ship for Bangladesh.

In the short term, the Indian embargo would have no effect on food security in Bangladesh, as enough wheat to meet domestic demand has already been imported or is in the pipeline.

At the moment, the country’s stock of wheat is enough to last through August, and there would be no need to import any wheat before that, the food secretary said.

There would still be scope to import wheat from India at government to government (G2G) level, as mentioned in the Indian wheat export ban notification, Nazmanara also pointed out.

In any case, Bangladesh has also signed a deal with Bulgaria to import wheat and is looking at other exporters including Australia, Canada, Ukraine and Russia.

According to the Food Ministry, Bangladesh’s annual demand for wheat is around 7.5 million MT, of which just 1 million MT is produced locally on average in a year.

The remaining demand is met by importing wheat from India, Russia, Ukraine, Canada, Argentina and USA, the overwhelming majority by the private sector.

The government imports just half a million tonnes, with the private sector accounting for the other 6 million MT, the secretary said.

Some 60 percent of the imported amount came from India in 2020-21 due to less costlier and easier transport.

Ukraine, Russia, Canada, Argentina, and the US were the top 5 countries exporting wheat to Bangladesh in the FY 2019-20.

India emerged as a major wheat exporter to Bangladesh in FY 2020-21, downgrading Ukraine to 3rd position. Canada’s wheat export volume to Bangladesh also saw a rise from about 1 million tons in 2019-20 to over 1.4 million tons in the last fiscal.

India announced its ban on wheat exports to international markets on Saturday, in a statement by the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT).

The statement said that invoices for trade agreements already signed can be exported; however, from Saturday, no new international order will be taken regarding wheat export.

In addition, if a country specifically requests the Government of India to send wheat, the DGFT notification states that the export ban can be waived.