India steps in to fill global wheat stocks amid Russia-Ukraine war

India steps in to fill global wheat stocks amid Russia-Ukraine war
FILE PHOTO: A driver unloads a truck at a grain store during barley harvesting in the village of Zhovtneve, Ukraine, July 14, 2016. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko

Amid the war, vital food supplies from Ukraine (one of the world’s biggest wheat exporters) have been blocked from leaving seaports and the country’s fields bombed, which means fewer crops to harvest. Farms in Ukraine have harvested about 15 million tons of corn since autumn – most of which should have been sent out to buyers by now. But, rather than shipping out as usual, Ukraine’s blocked seaports mean that exports have to make their way by rail slowly. Russia and Ukraine together make up 25% of the global wheat market. So now, India, also a top producer, is preparing to bridge gaps in global stocks, planning to ship out around 12 million tons to the rest of the world this year.

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“We are overestimating the production," said Harish Damodaran, a senior fellow at the Centre for Policy Research – a Delhi-based think tank. “We will know in another 10 days,” he said, referring to his belief that the Indian yield could be lower than current estimates due to a shortage of fertilizers. He suggested that one way to get around this is to explore “wheat-for-fertilizer” deals with countries like Egypt and others in Africa.

The Russians are “doing everything to ruin our agriculture potential and to provoke a food crisis not only in Ukraine but in the world,” said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.