New Delhi, (Agencies): India, which is known as the world's largest milk producer, banned exports of milk powder and its derivative casein to rein in rising prices in the domestic market.

The ban, announced by the Commerce Ministry, will come into effect immediately and will be valid till "further orders".

Milk prices have risen by about 20 per cent in the retail market and by 12 per cent at the wholesale level in the last one year, adding to the food inflation which is well into the double digit.

Food inflation was 11.05 per cent for the week that ended February 5.

The decision came a day after an Empowered Group of Ministers, headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, reviewed the price situation of commodities.

The government last month had withdrawn export incentives on these products.

India exported milk powder and casein worth Rs. 500 crore last fiscal.

Reacting on the move, Managing Director of Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd -- which sells milk under 'Amul' brand -- R S Sodhi said the decision would help contain the prices.

"Looking at the current scenario it is a good decision as this would help improve availability of milk and keep prices under check,' Sodhi said.

However,he said the government should review the decision once the prices stabilise.

India's annual production of milk was 112 million tonne. In another notification, the DGFT said that onion exports are allowed through state trading enterprises (STEs).