By Puja Das
The government is likely to permit export of 100,000 tonnes of broken rice to Mali that relies on India to meet its food grain needs, an official said.
This is not the first time that India is expected to supply broken rice to Mali. Earlier, it cleared some quantity to export to the West African nation. Recently, the Union government approved exports of nearly 50,000 tonnes of broken rice to Bhutan. The Indian government has also cleared exports of 2.77 million tonnes (mt) of non-basmati white rice to nine key Asian and African nations, including Singapore, Nepal, Malaysia and the Philippines.
India has been supplying rice to its strategic partners in Asia and West African countries since the export ban on broken variety and non-basmati white garb rice in September 2022 and July 2023, respectively, to keep inflation in check. This is despite the ban in place, and the exports are taking place at the government-to-government level and those are being facilitated by National Cooperative Exports Ltd, a government export body which was set up under the Multi-State Cooperative Societies (MSCS) Act, 2002 to export agriculture produce and allied items.
In the case of broken rice exports, the Indian government in May allowed exports of broken rice based on permission given by the government for shipments to other countries to meet their food security needs.
African countries rely on India for rice supply.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation all rice price index averaged 138.9 points in October, 2% lower than its September level. But, it remained 24% higher year-on-year. Rice export increased tenfold to 21.8 mmt from 2.6 mmt between FY 2002 and FY 2023 making India the largest rice exporting country in the world, accounting for 40% share of the 55.6 mt global rice trade.
Despite the ban on exports of broken rice, India exported 498,000 tonnes during April-October as compared to 2.4 mt in the corresponding period of last year. In 2022-23 financial year, the country exported 3 mt of this rice variety. Experts recommend a policy mix instead of a complete prohibition that leaves a far-fetched impact on the global market as well as India’s trade.
Queries sent to the food department and spokesperson of the Mali embassy in New Delhi remained unanswered at press time. As a result of India’s rice export ban, global rice markets went into turmoil and impacted India’s competitiveness in the global market that was built over the decades, said Ashok Gulati, a distinguished professor at the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations. This is not in line with the spirit of G20 proposals.
“Government of India continues to uphold its G2G (Government-to-Government) contracts with its African counterparts. However, some African countries are seeking alternative Asian rice markets, including Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar, Burma, Thailand and Pakistan where prices seem to be higher compared to the rates offered by India,” said Sharath Loganathan, Co-Founder of Ninjacart, an agri-tech company. “There is demand for rice and being a major staple for many countries, it definitely requires planning, collaborative approach, sustainable and strategic solutions to address the challenges in both domestic and global markets.”
This article has been republished from The Mint.