Addressing a United Nations ‘Global Food Security Call to Action’ ministerial meeting, Minister of State for External Affairs, V. Muraleedharan, said India’s restrictions on the export of wheat made allowance for exports to countries that had food security needs. He also reiterated India’s call for a diplomatic solution to the Russia-Ukraine conflict. The U.N. meeting was held in-person in New York and chaired by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
“Let me make it clear that these measures allow for export on the basis of approvals to those countries who are required to meet their food security demands,” Mr. Muraleedharan said about India’s restrictions on wheat exports. “This will be done on the request from the concerned governments,” he said, adding that such a policy will ensure that those who are in need the most would be catered to. India has been under pressure from the U.S. and the G7 (Group of Seven advance economies) to rollback its ban on wheat exports.
“To begin with, it is obvious that an early diplomatic solution to the conflict in Ukraine is of paramount importance. India has been consistent in calling for a diplomatic solution through constructive dialogue between the two sides,” Mr. Muraleedharan said, adding that India backed the U.N Secretary General’s call for exempting the World Food Programme purchases of food from export restrictions.
Early on in his speech the Minister said that commodity and energy prices had spiralled, and supply chains were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and “ongoing conflicts, including Ukraine”.
“The food security challenges emanating inter alia from Ukraine conflict require us to respond creatively, “he said .
The Minister said countries like India, which had adequate food stocks, were seeing “unjustified” increases in food prices, which he attributed to hoarding and speculation.
“We cannot allow this to pass unchallenged,” he said.
The Minister said that principles of equity, affordability and accessibility of food grains were important and noted that these principles were not adhered to in the case of COVID-19 vaccines.
Making references to the government’s stated policy of ‘Neighbourhood First’ and V asudhaiva kutumbakam or universal family, Mr. Muraleedharan said India was providing Afghanistan with 50,000 tonnes of wheat (this process began in March this year), and that the country was also donating rice or wheat to Sri Lanka and Myanmar.
“India will play its dual role in advancing global food security, and it will do so in a manner in which it will uphold equity, display compassion, and promote social justice,” he said,