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Jul 13, 2023, 11:35am EDT
net zeroSouth Asia

What it means: India reportedly considers banning most rice exports

A rice farmer sows grains in the Indian village of Anegundi
Ingo Mehling/Wikimedia Commons
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The News

The Indian government is discussing possibly banning exports of many non-basmati rice varieties as local prices spike, Bloomberg reported on Thursday, citing people familiar with the matter.

While the reported move may keep costs low for locals, it may spike prices globally, as India is the world’s largest rice exporter shipping over 40% of the world’s rice.

We’ve collected insights and reporting to understand why India is reportedly mulling this move.

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Insights

  • The Indian government may be motivated in part over fears that El Niño, a disruptive weather pattern linked to hotter weather, could ruin crops. India supplies rice to more than 100 countries, and several Asian nations have begun to stockpile rice over fears of El Niño-related drought. — Bloomberg
  • India has controlled exports of rice before. Last September, the country placed a duty on unmilled white rice, husked brown rice, and semi-milled or wholly-milled rice. That decision came following a spike in food prices brought on by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which disrupted wheat trade and sent the price of bread and cereals soaring. — The Financial Times
  • With climate change, imported foods like rice which are not easily grown in northern climates will be expensive and harder to access, Gareth Redmond-King, head of the International Programme at the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit said. “Cutting emissions to net zero is the only route to halting climate change to limit warming and avoid even worse impacts,” he said. He also called for wealthy nations to help India with climate finance and other investments, which, in turn, helps secure the West’s food supplies.
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Inflation jumped in India last month, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government may be using the plan as a way to bring costs down to help public sentiment.

State polling is expected in parts of India later this year, and the country faces a general election in 2024.

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