Explainer: India’s Non-Basmati Rice Export Ban
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When videos of panicking hoarders buying large quantities of rice in the USA and Canada flooded the internet, Indian grocery stores in these countries drove up the price. On the 20th of July this year, India imposed a ban on the export of non-basmati rice to other countries as a way of curbing the rising prices of the grains on home ground. Of the thousands of varieties of rice cultivated in the country, only a handful of varieties are traded globally; four groups, to be specific.

A bulk of the international trade happens to cater to the demand of the long-grain Indica variety, followed by the aromatic basmati, short-grained Japonica and glutinous sticky rice, used for sweet preparations. As the world’s top rice exporter accounting for 40% of the global trade, countries like Cuba and Panama, along with other regions like Nigeria, China and the Philippines, identify as top consumers of the cereal crop. Not the first time that the ban has been imposed, this recent development is the successor to the ban on broken rice and a 20% duty charge on basmati exports that occurred in the previous year.

With a rise in global prices going up as high as 14% as of June last year, in addition to the strain in supply happening because of the wait for the new crop cycle to yield, domestic rice prices have increased to more than 30%, as of October 2022. As a country grappling with the consequences of food inflation, the stockpile of 41 million tonnes of rice – which also gives more than 700 million people access to cheap food, the ban is an attempt to get ahead of the predicted shortfall.

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With the changing weather conditions that have affected rainfall patterns across the country, the 42 countries that import rice from our country, stand to face a global food shortage as a result of this ban. The ban that has resulted in global prices of rice being hiked, India however continues to export rice to countries like Singapore, Bhutan and Mauritius. According to news sources, the Indian government has approved the shipment of 1.43 lakh tonnes of rice to these countries, based on the authorisations given by the government to other nations to meet their need for food security.

The Singapore government also released information about being in talks with India to ease restrictions, due to a shortage of supply. The close economic ties between the two nations and cultural cross-connections is what resulted in the clearance coming through – exporting 79,000 tonnes to Bhutan, 14,000 tonnes to Mauritius and 50,000 tonnes to Singapore.