Farmers organisations and Opposition parties have questioned the Centre's move to ban export of wheat. The Congress termed the move as anti-farmer. The Samyukt Kisan Morcha said the Centre should immediately enhance procurement of wheat by giving a better price.

Insufficient procurement

Congress leader and former Finance Minister P Chidambaram told reporters in Udaipur that the decision to ban wheat exports was taken because the Centre had failed to procure enough wheat. "It’s not that wheat production has come down. It is more or less the same, in fact, it may be marginally more. I was told by the Chhattisgarh Chief Minister that they have been able to procure 97 lakh tonnes of paddy. So, if procurement takes place, there would not be any need to ban the export of wheat," he added.

Chidambaram added that banning export of wheat is an anti- farmer measure. "It deprives the farmer of reaping the benefits of higher export prices. It is an anti- farmer measure and I am not surprised as this Government has never been very friendly to the farmer," Chidambaram said.

Samyukt Kisan Morcha(SKM) leader and president of All India Kisan Sabha Ashok Dhawale said the move was against the interest of farmers. "The farmers were getting slightly higher price for wheat due to the situation in Ukraine. But because the summer started early in March, the yield is much less in Northern States this year. The government procurement has gone below half. Now the government worries that the export will impact the food security. It's a catch-22 situation for the Centre," he said.

‘Should have hiked MSP’

He said considering the current situation, the government should have increased the MSP for wheat, which is anyway not satisfactory. "This would help to increase government procurement and would also aid in ensuring food security. In many north Indian States, due to shortage of wheat, the government is giving rice in the PDS. This is unacceptable," he added.

SKM said in a statement that the Centre is creating hurdles for the farmers. "Prime Minister Narendra Modi has always said that India will feed the world. But now he has taken a U-turn," the SKM said.

CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury urged the Centre to restore the Public Distribution System. "Wheat prices are skyrocketing. Modi Government's procurement in this fiscal is less than half of targeted 44.4 million tonnes. Supplies to ration shops have drastically reduced. Restore PDS supplies forthwith," he said.