Rice exports: Good monsoon prospects in India dampen fears over rice export restrictions

Adequate rice reserves in India, the world’s largest exporter of staple foods, and expectations of heavy monsoon rains should allay concerns about the possibility of “drastic” measures to curb exports, National Commodities Management Services Ltd said.

Global markets fear rice could be next on the agenda after India restricted wheat and sugar exports. Unlike other commodities like cooking oils and wheat, which have surged due to supply disruptions following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, rice has been broadly stable amid record production and huge inventories.

“As of today, there is every reason to be optimistic that the harvest will be good, with the supportive monsoons,” Siraj Chaudhry, managing director of the storage and trading company, told Bloomberg TV. There is “no reason to believe” there will be a ban on rice shipments as India only exports about 20% of its production and there are sufficient supplies, he said.

“There may be some quantitative limitations if there is an issue with the crop or the weather,” Chaudhry said during the interview with Juliette Saly and Rishaad Salamat.

Harvest prospects in the country of nearly 1.4 billion people have brightened after the India Meteorological Department predicted a normal monsoon for a fourth year. The rainy season from June to September, which irrigates more than half of the country’s arable land, also fills reservoirs that water winter-sown crops. India is the second largest producer of wheat, rice, sugar and cotton and the largest consumer of palm, soybean and sunflower oil.

Rice is the only staple grain helping to keep the world food crisis from worsening. India has been an aggressive rice shipper this year after exporting 17.26 million tonnes of non-basmati rice and 3.95 million tonnes of basmati rice, a flavorful grain used in dishes like biryani and pilaf, in 2021-22 is used.

The global supply shift has given India “a foot in the door” to more markets for its goods, Chaudhry said. The country’s infrastructure and the entire supply chain would need to be “smoothed, strengthened and shortened” to maintain access to these just-opened markets, he said.

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