News / Asia

    India Emerges as a Top Rice Exporter

    Indian women harvest rice in a field at Raja Panichanda village, outside Gauhati, India, November 2011.
    Indian women harvest rice in a field at Raja Panichanda village, outside Gauhati, India, November 2011.

    Five months after lifting a ban on exports of cheaper varieties of rice, India has emerged as one of the world's top rice exporters. That has helped stabilize prices around the world, even as the cost goes up in traditional exporting nations like Thailand.

    Scores of Indian rice traders have returned from a recent Grains Conference in Dubai after discussing lucrative deals. 

    Brisk business expected

    The head of the All India Rice Exporters Association, Vijay Setia, says business will be brisk in the coming months.

    "Feeling was bullish. Demand from Iran, Iraq and the entire Middle East was big. African customers were there because of good quality and the lower price," said  Setia.

    The reason: India is providing customers with a cheaper alternative to rice from top exporters like Thailand. Rice became more expensive in Thailand after floods damaged last year's crop and the government introduced a scheme to guarantee how much farmers are paid.

    Effect of lifting on exports

    The situation in India is dramatically different. There are huge stockpiles after a series of bumper rice crops, leading to a nearly 25 percent fall in paddy prices in local markets.  
    The government responded in September by lifting a four-year-old ban on exports of lower-priced varieties of rice. India has always exported its expensive "basmati rice," but exports of other varieties were suspended in 2008 after global food prices climbed steeply.  

    Samarendu Mohanty, chief economist at the International Rice Research Institute in Philippines, says India’s return to the global rice market in September prevented a spike in international prices.  

    "India came as a savior. The timing was so perfect because Thailand was implementing in the same month their rice mortgage program where they increased their domestic price by nearly 50 percent. It pretty much boiled down to if Thai increased their rice by 50 percent, then global rice price also goes up accordingly. But that did not happen because of India," said Mohanty.

    Price advantage

    Mohanty estimates that a ton of Indian rice is currently about $100 cheaper than comparable varieties from other countries. From October to January, India shipped out 2.3 million tons of rice - even more than Thailand - as the Indian rice was sought by customers in several countries.   

    Those customers include neighboring Pakistan, which is itself a rice producer and exporter. The price advantage has prompted Pakistani traders to buy rice from Indian traders for the first time.

    R.S. Seshadri, director at a leading rice exporting company, Tilda Riceland, says more rice is also going to price-conscious markets in Africa.  

    "Today you are able to participate in the entire price spectrum of rice trades in the world. Otherwise, previously you were restricted only to the premium $900 [per ton] plus rices. Today you are able to participate in the $350 till a $1,000 (per ton) rice export," said Seshadri.

    Upbeat assessment for future

    According to industry estimates, India’s share in the global rice trade could triple this year and rise to about six million tons.

    Setia of the Rice Exporters Association points out that India’s granaries are overflowing.     
    "India is overloaded with rice. In four years, we have accumulated our buffer stock 30 million tons, which is very large. Similarly, the private traders are also loaded with rice," said Setia.
    That spells good news for global consumers, says Mohanty at the International Research Rice Institute.   

    "If India stays in the market, and we don’t have any big weather crisis in Asia, I would expect prices to go down little bit," said Mohanty.  

    Exports from India are expected to continue this year as there is virtually no space in Indian granaries to store more rice.

    Future exports hinge on harvest

    However, Seshadri of Tilda Riceland says much will depend on the size of India's rice harvest this year.

    "The window of review will be in May when the first estimates of monsoons are put out. India will determine whether it needs to tighten or loosen its export policy. There will never be a situation where India cannot take its eye off the ball because internal consumption is so large that one cannot but keep a very close eye on it," said Seshadri.

    India is the world’s second largest rice producer. But with 1.2 billion people to feed, rice exports are only permitted after the government stores sufficient surplus to meet emergency needs such as a crop failure due to drought.



    You May Like

    Vietnam Urges US to Lift Lethal Weapons Ban Amid S. China Sea Tensions

    US president’s upcoming visit to Vietnam underscores strength of relationship, and lifting embargo would reflect that trust, ambassador says

    Are US Schools Turning a Blind Eye to Radical Qatari Preachers?

    Parade of radical Islamist clerics using mosque at Qatar’s Education City draws mounting criticism for American universities that maintain satellite branches there

    Why Islamic State Is Down But Not Out

    Despite loss of territory, group’s ferocious attacks over past three months seen as testimony to its continued durability and resourcefulness

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroadi
    X
    May 02, 2016 1:36 PM
    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora