Rice Export Bans Rising Prices Decade High Basmati Rice Thailand US NRIs Rice NRIs Panic Buying

After a ban on the export of non-basmati rice by India, images of empty shelves and panic buying of rice in the US are circulating on social media. Reports are circulating of non-resident Indians (NRIs) in the US taking home dozens of rice bags and department stores putting up signs saying “Only one rice bag per family”.

Amid such a situation, a Bloomberg report on Tuesday suggested that rice prices are expected to rise in the near term, with concerns that they will reach decades-high levels in some regions. India is an important rice exporting country. However, fearing domestic shortages and price increases, the country banned the export of non-Basmati white rice on July 20 by changing its previous “free” export policy.

This decision entered into force with immediate effect, according to the notification by the Directorate-General for Foreign Trade (DGFT). The main destinations for the export of non-basmati white rice from India are Thailand, Italy, Spain, Sri Lanka and the US.

Earlier, in September 2022, India banned broken rice exports and imposed a 20 percent import duty on non-basmati rice, which was later lifted in November of the same year.

However, according to Tuesday’s Bloomberg report, the ban this time comes amid other global food supply concerns, such as the El Niño weather pattern, rising temperatures in Europe and Russian attacks on Ukrainian export facilities.

Combined with Vietnam, another major rice exporter, offering its 5% milled rice for $600 a ton, Thailand has feared a similar move. India, Vietnam and Thailand are the top three rice exporters in the world.

According to the report, if Thailand were to implement the price hike, it would cause their rice prices to reach their highest level since 2012. Currently, Thai rice is priced at $534 per ton, which is already close to a two-year high.

However, India still allowed rice exports based on government permissions granted to other countries to meet their food security needs and at the request of their governments. According to the report, this ban will affect exports to China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia and numerous African countries.

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Many NRIs and other people from the Indian diaspora took to social media to show the situation of panic buying in the US. Many also reported empty shelves at the stores.

“Only one sack of rice per family,” the stores said.

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