Curbs on rice exports unlikely at this stage

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The government has no plans to ban or restrict exports of rice at this stage, given the surplus domestic stocks and the prospects of a bumper kharif production, officials said on Thursday, scotching romours that shipments of the grain may be curbed.

The government had put a ban on wheat exports on May 13, amid fears of a looming shortage in the domestic markets.

Officials said the current stock of rice with the Food Corporation of India (FCI) is almost three times the buffer norm. Also, with expectation of ‘normal’ monsoon rains this year, rice production would be robust in the forthcoming kharif season. “We are bullish on the current year’s rice exports,” a commerce ministry official told FE. Another ministry official said a ban on rice exports was not under consideration.

India has exported about 20 million tonne (MT) of rice worth a record $9.6 billion to more than 150 countries in 2021-22. It has been the world’s largest rice exporter of the grain in the last decade.

“Rice is not an item to be considered for any export ban or restrictions at this point of time,” BV Krishna Rao, president, Rice Exporters Association, said.

Stating that India has close to 50% share in global trade of rice, Rao said that any restriction on exports may deprive cheaper staples to vulnerable sections of the globe, especially to Africa. “Unlike wheat, there is no global inflation in rice which can hit India, as global prices are below the minimum support prices,” he said.

Trade sources said around 2.5 to 3 MT of rice which includes basmati and non-basmati varieties have already been shipped out in April and May of 2022-23.

The FCI as of May 1, 2022, had rice stock of more than 33 MT against the buffer norm of 13.54 MT for the month of July. However, this stock excludes close to 18 MT of rice yet to be received from the millers by FCI.

According to the United States department of agriculture rice outlook report for April, the global trade in the 2022 calendar year is projected at a record 52.5 MT out of which India’s rice exports are projected to be around 21 MT while Vietnam will ship around 6 MT of rice.

As per DGCIS data, India exported rice to over 150 countries in 2021-22. “It indicates the diversification of India’s rice export over the years,” a commerce ministry official said.

India exports aromatic and long grain basmati rice to Saudi Arabia, Iran and other West Asian countries besides to the US and European Union.

In the case of non-basmati rice shipment, West African country Benin is one of the major importers of non-basmati rice from India. India exports non-basmati rice to Nepal, Bangladesh, China, Cote D’ Ivoire, Togo, Senegal, Guinea, Vietnam, Djibouti, Madagascar, Cameroon, Somalia, Malaysia, Liberia, the United Arab Emirates, etc.

As per the third advance estimates of foodgrain production for the 2021-22 crop year (July-June), the rice production is estimated at a record 129.66 MT, which is an increase of 4% from the 2020-21 crop year.

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More than 80% of India’s rice production is grown in the kharif season. India is the world’s second-largest rice producer after China.