At the same time, India’s own wheat harvest has suffered from a record-breaking heatwave that is stunting production.
Even though it is the world’s second largest producer of wheat, India consumes most of the wheat it produces. It had set a goal of exporting 10m tonnes of the grain in 2022-23, looking to capitalise on global disruption to wheat supplies from the war and find new markets for its wheat in Europe, Africa and Asia.
Much of that would have gone to other developing countries such as Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand.
Apart from problems with weather damaging harvests, India’s vast stocks of wheat – a buffer against famine – have been strained by distribution of free grain during the pandemic to about 800 million people.
To balance supply and demand, the government needs about 25m tonnes of wheat each year for an extensive food welfare programme that usually feeds more than 80 million people.