There was no shortage of wheat in India, but the Centre has imposed a ban on its export to check "rampant" overseas sales of the grain, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar has said.
Speaking to reporters after attending a function here on Thursday, Tomar said it was the government's duty to maintain a balance in the market.
“For us, the nation's interest comes first. And that is why there was no shortage of wheat in the country. It is the government's duty to maintain a balance in the market. Hence, we have imposed a ban to check rampant export of the food grain. We have to meet the country's demand,” the minister said.
On May 14, India, the world’s second biggest producer of the cereal, announced a ban on wheat exports as a part of measures to control rising domestic prices amid concerns of output being hit by scorching heatwave.
India's wheat exports stood at an all-time high of 7 million tonnes, valuing USD 2.05 billion, in 2021-22 on better demand of Indian wheat from overseas. Of the total wheat exports, around 50 per cent went to Bangladesh.
Tomar said India has to also look after the foodgrain needs of its neighbours.
“Our neighbouring countries depend on us. Many countries in the world need foodgrains, and they are looking at India. We have a responsibility to our neighbouring countries,” he said.
“To discharge all these responsibilities, we have taken the decision (to ban export) by checking our account (stock),” the minister said, responding to a query on the Congress’s allegation that overseas shipment of wheat was stopped without any planning.