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FAO Proposes Four Nations to Mitigate Impact of Indian Rice Export Constraints

Global rice reserves to increase this year on accumulation by New Delhi.

Shivangi Rai
Rice exports by nations corresponding to Thailand have helped to deliver down rice costs by 2 per cent in October from September. (Image Courtesy- Freepik)
Rice exports by nations corresponding to Thailand have helped to deliver down rice costs by 2 per cent in October from September. (Image Courtesy- Freepik)

Rice exports from India and Vietnam have decreased, but other countries like Thailand, Pakistan, Myanmar, and Cambodia are expected to compensate for this decline, resulting in overall Asian rice exports being 6 percent higher than the five-year average, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

In its "Crop Prospects and Food Situation" report, the FAO predicts that global rice reserves at the end of the 2023-24 marketing season will recover by 1.5 percent year-on-year, reaching a peak of 198.9 million tonnes. Much of this increase is expected in India, with additional contributions from Pakistan and the US, which could offset stock drawdowns in other major rice-exporting nations.

However, India has imposed restrictions on rice shipments since September 2022, which have affected its exports. These measures include a ban on damaged rice shipments in September 2022, a ban on white rice exports in July of the same year, a 20 percent duty on parboiled rice since August 26, and a minimum export price of $950 per tonne for basmati rice shipments.

These restrictions are aimed at ensuring food security due to adverse weather conditions impacting paddy crop production. The Agriculture Ministry estimates rice production at 106.31 million tonnes, falling short of the 112 million-tonne targets, with last year's kharif production at 110 million tonnes.

The decrease in rice exports from countries like Thailand has contributed to a 2 percent reduction in global rice prices in October compared to September, as reported by the FAO. The FAO's All Rice Price Index averaged 138.9 points in October 2023, a 24 percent increase from the previous year.

The decline in export quotations was most pronounced in the Japonica and Glutinous rice markets, with the Japonica Index dropping by 8.9 percent compared to September, reaching its lowest level since December 2021, and the Glutinous Index falling by 5.3 percent to a three-month low.

In Asian markets for Indica rice, which India produces, significant deals were limited to continued purchases by Indonesia's Bulog in October. India also approved shipments of 1 million tonnes to seven countries to address food emergencies in African nations and fulfill bilateral commitments, but overall exports across Asia declined.

In Thailand, the weakening of the baht against the US dollar added to weak offshore demand. In Pakistan, new crop arrivals helped offset the impact of a rebound in the Pakistani rupee's value on prices. Vietnamese rice quotations were more resilient, especially for lower-grade rice, as export availability was tighter.

In terms of price changes, Thailand's 5 percent broken white rice prices decreased by 5 percent to $584 per tonne from $612 between August and the present, while its 25 percent broken white rice prices dropped by nearly 8 percent to $558 from $605. Bangkok's parboiled rice prices also decreased to $584 from $615.

In India, parboiled rice prices currently range from $498 to $502 per tonne, compared to $478 to $482 previously. In Vietnam, white rice prices increased, while Pakistan offered its rice at a substantial discount compared to Thailand's prices, ranging from $20 to $60 per tonne.

While rice exports from India and Vietnam have been affected by various restrictions and challenges, other Asian countries are expected to increase their exports, leading to a 6 percent growth in overall rice exports from the region. Global rice reserves are also projected to recover, primarily in India, but with some contribution from Pakistan and the US. Rice prices have seen fluctuations, with decreases in some markets and increases in others, influenced by factors such as exchange rates and harvest progress.

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