On May 13 this year, India restricted exports of wheat. Though it exports only a small portion of its produce, it still is the second largest producer of wheat in the world. The onus for the wheat export curb goes to unusual summer causing heatwave and thus leading to low production yield in the country. Now, the real fear comes when the Government is planning to cut off rice export from India as well.
Indian rice crops have been severely struck by scarce rainfalls. It not only affected the yield, but also forced the farmers to reduce their croppable land. This is why major rice-producing states in the north and the east observed a low paddy yield this year. Additionally, a mystery disease- ‘Stunting’ caused by a virus first seen in China in 2001 has been affecting the crops too. Worried about shortages in stocks and domestic inflation, the largest exporter of rice is now considering a curb on rice exports.
This would directly affect the countries that rely on rice shipments from India. Other than that it is also a cause of trouble for local farmers and the rice exporters in India. India has, in the past (2007-08) implemented a ban on grain exports and even back then the results were not very rewarding but were rather consequential. That decision led to a year-long food security crisis and local producers did not take it well. Repeating the ban, according to some market specialists, would be both unproductive and irresponsible as well. Irresponsible as the ban would soar the market prices globally and it would hit the developing nations worldwide, who are already facing the consequences of the Russia-Ukraine war.
Farmers at Home Unhappy?
The ban on Rice Exports from India would not just affect poor countries worldwide but rice exporters from India as well and the farmers will take it badly as they are missing out on high prices overseas. As of now, there’s nothing that justifies the rice export ban. Neither is it going to lower inflation nor would it improve India’s Food security. In India, the mandated buffer stock for rice is 11 million metric tonnes, and the government’s official data reveals that the warehouses are holding around 28 million metric tonnes. So it is evident that the rice reserves are not running out any time soon. Meanwhile, agricultural economists have pointed out that inflation in India is mainly driven by fuel and vegetable prices. Rice prices accounted for around only 2 percent of the rise in the consumer price index last month.
Though it is still unclear if the government is going ahead with its export ban or not, the news is already stirring concerns in the global market. The ban on rice export would hurt India’s already struggling farmers along with its friends overseas. Currently, India should be more focused on how it can grow rice more efficiently and that would be a big step for India’s food security as well. This way, India should look for alternatives to the rice export ban.