By Pallavi Singhal
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has lowered the global rice trade forecast for calendar years 2023 and 2024 after India’s ban on exports of non-basmati white rice from the country.
India accounts for more than 40 percent of global rice exports, which stood at 56 million tonnes in 2022. The country ships rice to around 140 nations around the world. Kenya, Benin, Madagascar, Mozambique and Togo are major markets for India’s non-basmati and non-parboiled rice.
While the trade estimate has been lowered by 3.44 million tonnes for 2024, it has been cut by two million tonnes for 2023.
“Global rice trade in the calendar year 2024 is now projected at 52.9 million tonnes (milled basis), down 3.44 million tonnes from the previous forecast, and rice trade in 2023 is lowered almost two million tonnes from the July forecast,” the report by USDA read.
On July 20, India announced an immediate ban on the exports of non-basmati and non-parboiled rice to ensure the domestic availability of non-basmati rice and prevent higher domestic prices.
Rice prices in India on year have seen an upswing of over 10 percent. As of August 7, retail prices of rice had risen 10.63 percent on-year, while in the wholesale market, it had registered a spike of 11.12 percent in the comparative period.
Along with the risk of El Nino, India is also grappling with high retail inflation, which was at a 15-month high of 7.44 percent in July, led by a rise in prices of vegetables and key staples such as pulses, spices and cereals.
However, the Government of India has said that it will allow exceptions to the export ban for specific countries based on food security needs in a government-to-government trade setting.
Meanwhile, the ban has had serious implications for some of the biggest rice importers, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. China, the European Union, Kenya and Vietnam have faced the largest reductions, as per the report.
The ban has led to a steep spike in rice prices across the globe, with the commodity breaking the 12-year price ceiling.
The rice price index rose 2.8 percent in July from a month ago to its highest level in nearly 12 years. This comes as prices in key exporting countries jumped on strong demand and India’s move to curb exports, as per the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
The FAO Food Price Index tracks monthly changes in the international prices of globally traded food commodities.
Over the past month, Thailand’s export prices increased by almost 25 percent to $657 per tonne on August 8, up $126 from the week ending July 11 and the highest since early October 2008, the USDA report pointed out. Meanwhile, rice export prices from Vietnam were $620 per tonne, up $105 from the same period (week ending July 11) and the highest since July 2008.
Prices of rice from Pakistan too jumped more than $75 per tonne to $598 for the week ending August 8, the highest since August 2008.
This article has been republished from Money control