India, the world’s largest exporter of rice, has banned all exports of non-basmati white rice, a staple food for billions of people, in an attempt to curb rising domestic prices and ensure adequate availability. The move has triggered concerns about a global food crisis, as many Asian and African countries depend on India’s rice shipments.
Non-basmati white rice accounts for about 70% of the global rice trade, and India exported 10.3 million tonnes of it in 2022. Some of the major buyers of this variety are Bangladesh, Nepal, Benin, Angola, Cameroon, Djibouti, Guinea, Ivory Coast, and Kenya. These countries could face severe food shortages and higher prices as they scramble to find alternative sources of supply.
The export ban comes at a time when global rice prices are already at a two-year high due to fears of El Nino affecting rice crops. The FAO’s All Rice Price Index has risen by 13.9% in the past 12 months. The ban also follows India’s earlier restrictions on exports of broken rice and a 20% duty on non-basmati rice exports, which have reduced India’s share in the global market.
Experts warn that India’s export ban could have a ripple effect on the world’s food security, especially in the wake of the Ukraine crisis that has disrupted grain shipments from the Black Sea region. They urged India to reconsider its decision and resume exports as soon as possible to avoid a humanitarian crisis. They also call for more international cooperation and coordination to ensure stable and affordable food supplies for all.