India, which emerged as the largest global supplier of rice in 2020-21, has once again registered over 280 per cent increase in exports of the grain in April—the first month of this financial year.
Several countries including neighbouring China and Bangladesh are likely to continue importing Indian rice, about $80-100 cheaper than the grain exported by Thailand and Vietnam. Rice production in these countries has been severely impacted due to the ongoing Covid 19 pandemic.
In April this year, India’s exports of non-basmati rice stood at 1.6 million tonnes. In the corresponding month last year, the country exported a little less than 45,000 tonnes.
In 2020-21, India’s total rice exports stood at 17.7 million tonnes, of which over 13 million tonnes were non-basmati rice.
“Despite the ongoing political tussle between India and China, Beijing has continued with its imports of the grain that forms part of the staple diet there, from New Delhi,” an insider said.
Besides, India’s exports to Bangladesh, which has issued another tender to buy another stock of 50,000 tonnes the grain, has also increased. India has already supplied over 3.5 lakh tonnes of rice to its south Asian neighbour in the last few months.
Vinod Kaul, executive director, All India Rice Exporters’ Association told India Narrative that India is ready to supply more rice to the South Asian neighbour.
Demand for non Basmati rice has also increased from the price-sensitive African countries.
“We have already been exporting rice to Bangladesh and China besides many countries in Africa. The demand from these countries is high. This year too, we are expecting our exports to be high with production of the grain on track,” Kaul added.
Thousands of hectares of rice crops in Bangladesh have been damaged due to a severe heat wave that swept for two days in April.
According to the Dhaka based news organisation Prothom Alo, more than 36 districts were affected by this heat wave.
The newspaper said that more than 68,000 hectares of rice were either partially or completely destroyed over the two days, affecting more than 300,000 farmers and resulting in losses of an estimated 3. $39 million. Dhaka has also slashed import duty on rice to 25 per cent from a high 62.5 per cent to facilitate imports of the grain in the country.
Food security in India
As the government set a target of 104.3 million tonnes of rice production this financial year, sources said that sowing of the grain has been on track.
“With a record production of rice and wheat, India is food secured though amid the pandemic food security has become a cause for concern globally,” Kaul said.
In the first in-person meeting of the Group of 20 held in Italy’s Matera, the foreign ministers underlined the need to increase investments to ensure food security and called for stronger co-ordination to fight the pandemic, which could add over 100 million people to the total number of undernourished in the world. There are already about 840 undernourished million people in the world.
"We express deep concern for the state of food insecurity across the world," the ministers said in the declaration after the meeting.