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Bangladesh - Biz World - Diplomatic - August 3, 2023

Indian rice export ban may lead to global food shortage

Asifiqbal Thakoor: India has banned the export of rice, an essential food product for billions of people around the world. This could lead to global food shortages. British media BBC reported this information in a report yesterday.
On July 20, India banned the export of non-basmati white rice. Basically, the country has taken initiatives to stabilize the price of rice in the domestic market. This resulted in a shortage of Indian rice in the United States and Canada. In the video circulating on social media, people are seen panicking and buying rice. Due to which the price of this product has also increased.
Thousands of varieties of rice are produced worldwide. But import and export are mainly four types of rice. Of these, the narrow long grain indica rice is the most widely grown. And the rest are fragrant basmati, small grain japonica; which is used to make sousi and risottos and glutinous rice; which is used in making misti.
India is the largest exporter of rice in the world. 40 percent of the world’s total demand comes from this country. Other top rice exporting countries are Thailand, Vietnam, Pakistan and USA.
The top rice importing countries are China, Philippines and Nigeria. On the other hand, when there is a shortage in the domestic market, Indonesia and Bangladesh import rice. Now the demand for rice is also increasing in the African continent. In addition, rice is the main source of energy in Cuba and Panama.
Last year, India exported 22 million tons of rice to 140 countries. Of which 6 million tons was relatively cheap indica rice. (Last year global rice import-export was about 56 million tons).
Indica rice accounted for 70 percent of global rice imports and exports in 2022, and now India has stopped exporting that rice. Last year, the country imposed a 20 percent tax on small rice and basmati rice exports. After that the real total ban.
As expected, India’s rice export ban in July caused global panic. IMF economist Pierre-Olivar Gorinchas said the ban would push up rice prices and could raise global grain prices by more than 15 percent.
Sirle Mustafa, a market analyst at the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), said India imposed the ban on rice at a time when “times are not good.”
Firstly, the price of rice has been increasing since the beginning of 2022. That’s a 14 percent increase since last June
Second, the supply of rice is now disrupted, with three months to go before new rice arrives in the market.
Unusual weather conditions in South Asia – heavy rains in India and floods in Pakistan disrupt rice supplies. Besides, the price of rice has also increased due to the increase in the price of fertilizers.
On the other hand, rice importing countries have increased imports due to depreciation of their currencies. The cost of this business has also increased due to inflation.
United Nations market analyst Mustafa said, “We are in a situation where importers are in trouble.” It remains to be seen whether these importers can adapt themselves to the price increase.
India has its own stockpiles of 41 million tons of rice. Which is about 3 times as needed. These rice are given to 70 crore people of the country at a low price.
Last year India went through massive inflation. The price of rice in the country’s market has increased by 30 percent since last October. Which has created additional pressure on the country’s government before the elections.
Devinder Sharma, an expert on India’s agricultural policy, said that abnormal weather conditions, including El Nino, could cause shortfall in rice production. And for this reason, the government wants to prepare in advance.
Many believe India should not ban rice exports. Because this ban is harmful to global food security.
According to the food agency IFRI, 42 countries of the world import half of their rice from India. There are some countries in Africa that get 80 percent of their total imports from this Asian country.
Experts say that ban on food products in the world is not new. Indonesia bans palm oil, Argentina meat, Turkey grain exports after Russia-Ukraine war. But India’s rice exports are a different matter. It will have a big impact on the world. Because many countries depend on their exports.
They also said that this sudden ban will threaten food security and also tarnish India’s reputation in the world. Because the world will not consider India as a reliable rice exporter.

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