Amid the coronavirus pandemic, when the world was suffering from a food crisis due to disturbances in cropping, the Indian agricultural sector increased its production manifold.
India’s agricultural exports grew by 18.49 per cent between April 2020 and February 2021 (as compared to the corresponding period in 2019) with wheat and non-basmati rice registering the highest jump. In 2022, this figure will witness a rather dramatic upswing. Why, you might ask? Well, the world is hungry, and India has surplus food.
The war in Ukraine and the stringent sanctions imposed on Russia have upended many equations. Directly impacted by the war is Europe, whose countries are already beginning to feel the pinch as they begin facing a food crisis. Wheat prices are soaring around the world. Together, Russia and Ukraine make up about 30 percent of global wheat exports. Russia has been sanctioned, and Ukraine has banned wheat exports. That leaves the world, especially Europe in a very precarious situation. You see, Ukraine is known as the breadbasket of Europe.
Joe Biden’s Candid Admission
On Thursday, Joe Biden said that a food shortage is “gonna be real” very soon. During a NATO press conference in Brussels after meeting with leaders of Western nations, Biden said, “With regard to food shortage, yes, we did talk about food shortages, and it’s gonna be real. The price of the sanctions is not just imposed upon Russia. It’s imposed upon an awful lot of countries as well, including European countries and our country as well.”
Essentially, the United States and its Western allies have admitted that a real and severe food shortage could hit them very soon. But as explained by TFI earlier, none of them need to be afraid, because India will feed them all. People in the West won’t suffer acute starvation, and that is a commitment India can make effortlessly.
India’s Stature as a Food Superpower
India is the second-largest producer of wheat with a share of around 14.14 per cent of world total production in 2020. Recently, the Modi government had directed India’s diplomatic missions abroad to facilitate the export of the country’s record domestic stockpiles of wheat. Currently, India has more than 100 million tonnes of food grains in state-held granaries.
India produces around 107.59 million MT of the food grain annually while a major chunk of it goes towards domestic consumption. At a time when Europe and America are struck by crisis and face a massive food security conundrum, India will be more than willing to extend a helping hand.
India is the world’s largest producer as well as exporter of rice. In 2019, India exported rice worth 7.1 billion dollars, accounting for 32 per cent of the global rice export. In 2020, major rice exporters like Vietnam and China were also forced to import the grain from India.
What is India Doing to Help the World?
According to a report by Moneycontrol, the Indian government has set in motion a number of measures to smoothen wheat exports to several countries in Asia and Africa to capture markets that were dependent on Russia and Ukraine. For starters, the Indian Railways will make available around 250 wagons over the next fortnight to move about 700,000 tonnes on a priority basis to ports.
There was a time when India had to feed its population using the crumbs thrown at it by rich and powerful countries in the West. The food which was dumped in India was of low quality. Today, that same India will export high-quality grains to the supposed “superpowers” of the world, so that their populations do not get wiped out due to hunger.