In order to ensure enough supply at home, India decided to ban the export of some varieties of rice. This move is driving up prices on the global market, a situation whose impact on nations with food insecurity is being watched with alarm by experts.
Although the popular basmati variety, a mainstay at Gulf dinner tables, is exempt from the restriction, it is causing a rise in the price of all rice kinds, increasing the vulnerability of import-dependent economies in the Middle East and Africa.
Although there might be some impact on prices in the Arab world, economists who focus on agriculture do not see a shortage of rice.
According to Fadel El-Zubi, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s main consultant in Jordan and a former director general of the organization in Iraq, “the impact is not going to be related to exporters to the Arab countries, nor will it be related to rice production levels in the Arab region.”
“The effect will be noticeable on global stock market prices.”
He said that the price rises would apply to rice produced in various markets, from the US to Australia, as well as food exported from India.
“This will have the most effect. However, the price rise won’t be comparable to the rise in wheat prices. Additionally, the price hike for rice will only last a short time. This is what I anticipate.
El-Zubi was alluding to the skyrocketing price of wheat on the global market as a result of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, who together produced over a third of the world’s wheat and barley before February 2022.
anxieties of grain shortages and skyrocketing food prices were raised as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the subsequent blockade of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports. These anxieties were most acute in the world’s most food-insecure countries, particularly in Africa.
A pact between Russia and Ukraine that was mediated by the UN and Turkey last summer allowed both countries to keep exporting grain. However, Moscow’s withdrawal from the Black Sea Grain Initiative earlier this month reignited worries about an increase in food prices.
These worries have increased as a result of India, the world’s top rice supplier and a country that accounts for about 40% of global trade, banning the export of non-basmati white rice from July 20.
The International Monetary Fund’s chief economist, Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas, responded to the Indian decision last week by stating that it should be revisited since it would exacerbate price volatility.
“In the current environment, these types of restrictions are likely to exacerbate volatility in food prices in the rest of the world and they can also lead to retaliatory measures,” he claimed.
“Since they may be detrimental globally, we would encourage the removal of this type of export restriction.”
However, according to Indian food policy researcher Devinder Sharma, the restriction was the appropriate measure to ensure India’s own food security. He claimed that given how heavily Western countries continued to utilize grain for the production of biofuels, the IMF was unjustified in condemning India’s market restrictions.
According to anecdotal data, Arab consumers are not now overly concerned about the effects of India’s export prohibition.
“We in Jordan consume basmati rice and not the white non-basmati rice that was included in the ban,” Jamal Amr, a spokesman for food at the Jordanian Chamber of Commerce.
He claimed that the US, the EU, East Asian nations, Uruguay, and Argentina were Jordan’s main sources of rice imports.
“I do not currently have a rice stockpile and do not intend to. I feel like everything is normal,” Dubai resident and Emirati housewife Umm Mohamed told Arab News. “Rice is the major staple food for my family, as well as the domestic assistance.