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China’s dependence on India for supply of rice may increase

China may import more rice from India

China’s dependence on India for supply of rice could increase in the coming months as production of the grain in Thailand and Vietnam slowed down. It has been primarily importing rice from these two countries.

China, which imports over 4 million tonnes of rice annually, has already placed an import order of 100,000 tonnes for broken rice from India for the December to February period but sources said that the requirement for the staple grain could continue through the year.

“Indications are that China will import more rice from India in the coming months as its production has been lower due to floods,” Vinod Kaul, executive director, All India Rice Exporters’ Association told IndiaNarrative.com. “As rice production has also been dented in Thailand and Vietnam, China could look at India to meet its requirements,” Kaul said, adding that rice orders are placed directly with the private mills.

According to a report published in China Global Television Network (CGTN), concerns over food shortage have risen as production dropped due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The floods have also ravaged crops in the several southern provinces denting production. However the report noted that officials in the country’s agriculture ministry said that the impact of floods in food supply was limited. 

Earlier CNBC reported for two-thirds of people living in China, rice is the staple food. “The country is running out of rice, and they are looking at India to meet this demand,” it said.

Chinese President Xi Jinping ‘Clean Plate Campaign’ last year aimed at reducing wastage of food also sparked off a debate on whether the dragon was staring a food crisis.

Broken rice in China is also used to make noodles.

Meanwhile a total of 24 rice mills across India have been cleared for exporting broken rice to China.

In 2018, Chinese officials cleared 24 Indian rice mills for exporting non-basmati rice into the country after which the first consignment comprising 100 tonnes of the grain was shipped to China from Nagpur.

India’s non basmati rice is priced lower than Thailand and Vietnam, giving it a competitive edge.

While Indian exported rice is priced at around $300 per tonne, the grain exported by Thailand and Vietnam is over $400 per tonne.

Statista.com, a data collation portal revealed that China’s imports of rice crop amounted to approximately $358.6 million in December 2020 up from $198.74 million in the corresponding month in 2019.

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) noted that India’s rice production could hit a record high as the crop benefitted from monsoon that supported increased plantings and good yields, World-Grain, a platform collating data and information on grain, four and weed said.

India, which already supplies over 32 per cent of the global rice needs, witnessed an 80.4 per cent increase in exports of rice – both basmati and non basmati during the April-December period of the current financial year touching 11.58 million tonnes.