India Bans All Non-Basmati Rice Exports

People holding black umbrellas, stooped over hand-planting rice during monsoon
Monsoon season impacts planting in India
Jul 20, 2023
NEW DELHI, INDIA – Earlier today, the Government of India confirmed they have imposed a ban on non-basmati rice exports, pointing to domestic production concerns.  The ban could impact as much as 80 percent of India’s rice exports.

Nearly 10 months ago, India implemented a ban on broken rice and an export tariff on non-basmati and non-parboiled rice.  However, it still shipped enough rice to break their own export record at 22.5 million metric tons.  Nearly a week ago, the USDA Grain: World Markets and Trade Report was projecting Indian rice exports to rise again in 2023-24 to a record 23 million metric tons, signaling excess domestic supplies.  B.V. Krishna Rao, president of India’s Rice Exporters Association, told Reuters, "The government is holding more stocks than needed for welfare schemes.  There is no need to restrict exports.”

India’s kharif (monsoon season) crop planting has been impacted by uneven rainfall in recent weeks and has resulted in rising domestic prices of rice and other commodities.  The Indian government is citing repression of domestic rice prices as the reason for implementing the radical ban.  The last time such a ban was put in place was in 2007 and then again in 2008, contributing to skyrocketing world rice prices and further exacerbating food insecurity in countries reliant upon rice imports.

“This is just another example of India playing games with global food security, citing concerns over domestic supplies despite tens of millions of metric tons in government stocks in addition to what’s stored privately,” said Bobby Hanks, Louisiana rice miller and chair of the USA Rice International Trade Policy Committee.  “With this action, India can quickly build more stocks that they’ll eventually dump back on the world market at dirt cheap prices and continue this cycle again.”

Hanks continued: “In the meantime, where in the world will rice importers find nearly 20 million metric tons to replace India’s presence?  India continues to propose permanent protections for their public stockholding schemes to avoid a WTO (World Trade Organization) dispute, but this inconsistent behavior is proving that their current scheme encourages irresponsibility and food insecurity.  They want to hoard rice and protect their domestic prices when convenient and then dump rice via artificially low-priced exports when it’s convenient, with no regard for the impact on the world trade balance sheets or the food insecurity it creates.  We’d call that having their rice cake and eating it, too.”

Kirk Satterfield, Mississippi rice farmer and chair of USA Rice weighed in on the latest development, saying, “Enough is enough, USA Rice is calling on the Biden Administration to see this political stunt for what it is and act to quickly initiate a case against India at the WTO through a formal request for consultations.”

India does acknowledge that they will consider government-to-government arrangements for exports in light of food security concerns.  Such a move gives the Indian government the power to determine the fate of millions in developing countries and creates a situation where those countries are potentially beholden to India’s requests moving forward.