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Last updated: 01 Aug, 2023  

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Bikky Khosla | 01 Aug, 2023

India recently imposed ban on all exports of 'non-basmati white rice'. According to the Centre, the decision was taken to "to guarantee sufficient availability of non-basmati white rice in the Indian market and to mitigate the increase in prices within the country." While the logic behind the decision sounds simple, it has created a ripple of reaction globally, particularly in those countries which are heavily dependent on India for rice.

The number of such countries is not small. India accounts for more than 40 percent of world rice exports, with share of non-basmati white rice surpassing the share of basmati rice in the last two fiscal years. The country produced 22.2 million tonnes of rice in 2022, and according to an estimate, its exports were more that the combined exports of four other major exporters of rice - Thailand, Vietnam, Pakistan, and the US. So, India’s decision to ban non-basmati white rice exports is of global significance.

Experts point out that the impact of this ban on global markets could be intensified further “through contagion.” It is noteworthy that last week the UAE has already imposed ban on rice exports and re-exports for four months, and if other rice exporting countries follow suit, the crisis may worsen further. A few countries including the US are already looking for alternative sources while some 140 other countries which import non-basmati rice from India are no less concerned.

The Centre has rightly taken into consideration several concerns, including geo-political scenarios, El Nino impacts, unpredictable weather conditions, etc. and no doubt it must ensure ample supplies for the country’s own population, but at the same time, it must act cautiously. A right balance between national interests and global responsibilities must be maintained, particularly considering India's increasing global leadership role these days.

I invite opinions.

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