India Stands Between World and Food Riots

Via Reuters, an article on India’s role in making up global grain shortfalls resulting from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine:

India’s pledge to feed to the world still holds more than a grain of truth. After global wheat supplies were disrupted by the war in Ukraine, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said India was ready to step up its trade. But a heatwave is singeing fields and threatening to drive domestic production of wheat down to levels last seen in 2017. Even so, the country’s rice exports matter more in global food security.

An export ban on wheat announced on Saturday eases pressure on India’s average retail wheat flour prices that are at a 12-year high and protects consumers. That will come at the expense of farmers, whose incomes have already been squeezed hard in recent years, and who will now need to sell their crop for lower prices to the government.

It raises the political heat on food security worldwide. Before the ban, India had been the only major supplier in global markets, due to worsening water scarcity in Brazil, the United States and Europe. Economists at Citi calculate India might still have some spare wheat to send overseas. If so, its neighbours including Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, which is in the midst of an economic and political crisis, are likely to be first in line.

The wheat shortfall shifts the world’s food focus onto rice, a common substitute for wheat. India remains the world’s top seller with 40% global export share this year, per forecasts from the USDA. Back in 2007 and 2008, export restrictions from India and Vietnam exacerbated a shortage, leading to food riots across Asia and Africa. Food-price rises continued for years and eventually spilled into the Arab Spring movement in Egypt and beyond. Overall food and beverage inflation in Egypt, a major wheat importer, was 26% year-on-year in April, higher than back in 2011.

The All Rice Price Index, compiled by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, remained below levels a year earlier as of April, though it is creeping up. Thanks to controversial subsidies assuring farmers a minimum selling price, India is likely to have enough grains to feed itself; a healthy monsoon season will be critical to global supplies. For now, India’s food stocks still spare political leaders elsewhere from even worse problems.


– India banned wheat exports on May 14 days after saying it was targeting record shipments this year, as a scorching heat wave curtailed output and domestic prices hit a record high.

– The government said it would still allow exports backed by already issued letters of credit and to countries that request supplies “to meet their food security needs”.

– The move to ban overseas shipments was not in perpetuity and could be revised, senior government officials told a press conference.

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Seeds Of A Revolution is committed to defining the disruptive geopolitics of the global Farms Race.  Due to the convergence of a growing world population, increased water scarcity, and a decrease in arable land & nutrient-rich soil, a spike of international investment interest in agricultural is inevitable and apt to bring a heretofore domestic industry into a truly global realm.  Whether this transition involves global land leases or acquisitions, the fundamental need for food & the protectionist feelings this need can give rise to is highly likely to cause such transactions to move quickly into the geopolitical realm.  It is this disruptive change, and the potential for a global farms race, that Seeds Of A Revolution tracks, analyzes, and forecasts.

Educated at Yale University (Bachelor of Arts - History) and Harvard (Master in Public Policy - International Development), Monty Simus has long held a keen interest in natural resource policy and the geopolitical implications of anticipated stresses in the areas of freshwater scarcity, biodiversity reserves & parks, and farm land.  Monty has lived, worked, and traveled in more than forty countries spanning Africa, China, western Europe, the Middle East, South America, and Southeast & Central Asia, and his personal interests comprise economic development, policy, investment, technology, natural resources, and the environment, with a particular focus on globalization’s impact upon these subject areas.  Monty writes about freshwater scarcity issues at and frontier investment markets at