Facing wheat and sugar shortage amidst Ukraine conflict : Countries approach India for Supplies

After Covid vaccines, countries approach India for supply of wheat and sugar during Ukraine conflict (IANS)
After Covid vaccines, countries approach India for supply of wheat and sugar during Ukraine conflict (IANS)

India said on Wednesday that its approach to the Ukraine crisis remains to promote dialogue to end the conflict; mitigate economic distress for itself and for the world, and to work with its partners to these ends.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, while replying to a discussion on the situation in Ukraine in Parliament, admitted that the conflict has had significant consequences for the global economy and for India's national economy.

At the same time, he revealed that after delivering vaccines to countries all over the world, India has been approached by many nations for the supply of wheat and sugar by many nations during the ongoing crisis.

"We will step forward where global demands for food, grains and other materials are concerned and we will do it in a manner that is helpful to the global economy; which will not take undue advantage of countries in distress," the minister said.

The EAM said that, like all other countries, India too is assessing the implications and deciding what is best for the national interest.

"At a time when energy costs have spiked, clearly we need to ensure that the common person in India is not subject to an additional and unavoidable burden. Similarly, fertiliser prices have a direct implication for the livelihood of the majority of our population. And indeed, for food prices for all of us," said Jaishankar.

He emphasised that India's approach should be guided by national beliefs and values, its national interest and national strategy.

"Even the security of the nation is at stake, as we maintain our defence posture in the manner that the current security challenges warrant. All these, Speaker Sir, are legitimate pursuits of national interest by India. They are similar to what other nations are doing from their particular perspective. Attributing a political colouring to it is uncalled for, it is unfair. I do not even wish to get into which country is doing how much. Eventually, the numbers will speak for themselves," he said.

Jaishankar reiterated India's stand on pursuing dialogue and diplomacy to end the dispute.

"If India has chosen aside, it is the side of peace and it is for an immediate end to violence. This is our principled stand and it has consistently guided our position in international forums and debates including in the United Nations," he said.

India has been approached by many nations for the supply of wheat and sugar by many nations during the ongoing crisis. (Unsplash)
India has been approached by many nations for the supply of wheat and sugar by many nations during the ongoing crisis. (Unsplash)

He also said that New Delhi, deeply disturbed by the happenings in Bucha in Ukraine, strongly condemns the killings that have taken place there and support the call for an independent investigation.

Jaishankar highlighted that the Narendra Modi government believes that India's national strategy on the Ukraine situation should have four elements:

Firstly in terms of diplomacy – India continues to press forcefully for an immediate cessation of hostilities and an end to violence. He said that India encourages talks between Ukraine and Russia, including at the level of their Presidents. "Prime Minister has spoken to them both, himself in this regard. This was precisely the message that was conveyed to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov when he was in Delhi. If India can be of any assistance in this matter, we will be glad to contribute," said Jaishankar.

Secondly, the ground situation calls for urgent humanitarian relief. India has already provided 90 tonnes of relief material and that too is in the middle of an evacuation exercise. "Ukrainian Deputy PM Yuliia Svyrydenko called me a few days ago to request the supply of more medicines. The House will be glad to know that this is underway and delivery should start very soon," said the EAM.

Thirdly, India will work with the international community and partner countries to mitigate the economic hardships that are resulting from this conflict. While the focus is to soften its impact on its own economy, India is also helping partners going through very tough times. "Coordinating on lowering energy prices is one collective initiative. In the case of a neighbour like Sri Lanka, we are even supplying fuel on credit and food on credit," he said. Jaishankar added that food security is another major concern. "India has been approached for the supply of wheat and sugar by many countries and we are responding positively. The House will be glad to know that whether it is Basmati rice, non-Basmati rice, sugar, wheat, our exports in the last quarter have gone up very substantially," he revealed.

Fourthly, Jaishankar said that commercial diplomacy has to find additional sources to address any disruption of the supply of edible oil (India imports sunflower oil in very large quantities from Ukraine) or fertilizers. "Whether it is the supply of lentils, whether it is the requirement of raw materials for fertilizers, we are in different ways – whether it is edible oil- from MERCOSOUR, to Kazakhstan, Tanzania and Australia, to Canada, we are really looking today at global markets to see how we can lighten the burden for the common people of India, as a result of this crisis," he said. (AA/IANS)

Keywords – After Covid, Ukraine, Russia-Ukraine Conflict, Delivering Vaccines, Supply Food.

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