Worried about an unusual surge in ‘atta’ exports following the 13 May wheat ban, the government may make pre-shipment notification mandatory for all outbound wheat flour shipments, two people aware of the development said. The suspicion is that this is yet another attempt by exporters to flout the wheat export ban. It follows a government crackdown on exporters who were using forged letters of credit to get shipments passed. “A sharp surge in atta exports has been seen after the wheat export curb. Nearly 100,000 tonnes of atta is being exported every month since the ban, compared to 500,000 tonnes during the (entire) last financial year," a commerce ministry official said. “We are examining the possibility of pre-shipment notification that will ensure that the wheat exports ban will not be flouted by exporting atta. All atta exporters will have to notify the quantity, price and destination to the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT)," said the official, requesting anonymity. An exporter who did not wish to be named said that the government is watching the situation and some kind of a curb could be imposed as a sharp rise in ‘atta’ shipments will ultimately defeat the purpose of a ban on wheat exports as prices will surge. The development comes even after a warning last week by food secretary Sudhanshu Pandey that wheat should not be converted into “excessive" amounts of atta for exports as wheat is a regulated commodity.India exported 2.97 million tonnes (mt) of wheat and about 259,000 tonnes of atta between 1 April and 14 June. The wholesale food inflation index showed that wheat prices eased marginally, while overall food inflation increased. Wholesale food inflation, which eased in April in comparison to March, surged by two percentage points to 10.89% in May compared with the previous month. India exported 1.8 million tonnes of wheat to a dozen-odd countries, including Bangladesh and Afghanistan, after banning wheat exports, Pandey said on Sunday. About 33,000 tonnes of wheat has already been supplied to Afghanistan as humanitarian assistance against a commitment of 50,000 tonnes, he said. “It is important here to explain that the recent decision by the government to bring about regulation on wheat exports was essentially taken to protect domestic availability as well as availability to vulnerable countries to whom supplies cannot be ensured by market forces,“ Pandey told a ministerial conference on ‘uniting for global food security’ held in Germany. He said that since the ban, until 22 June, 1.8 million tonnes of wheat have been shipped out, almost four times the previous year’s amount, to countries including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Israel, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nepal, Oman and Sri Lanka. Mint had reported that since the ban about 1.5 million tonnes of wheat has been exported to Bangladesh which had bought nearly half the total exports from India during the last financial year. India exported a record 7 million tonnes of wheat during FY22 and planned to export about 10 million tonnes of wheat in the ongoing fiscal. However, heat waves in several parts of the country resulted in an export ban after production fell by about 6%. The World Bank has warned that the Russia-Ukraine war has disrupted planting and harvesting in Ukraine, threatening critical wheat stores, infrastructure and production, and halted shipping from the Black Sea, from which 90% of Ukraine’s grain is traded. Russia’s trade restrictions on agricultural products, including tighter licensing quotas and export bans announced in March, are putting further strain on food prices.