India is likely to curb rice exports, after imposing a ban on wheat and sugar, to ensure adequate domestic supplies and to tackle price hikes.
A committee led by the Prime Minister's Office of India has been assigned to analyse essential commodities including non-basmati rice among other products. It will take measures accordingly to prevent price rise, reports Economic Times.
The government in Dhaka does not expect any heat from the move by its neighbour.
"In the last one year, we have not imported any non-basmati rice from India. Therefore, if India imposes a ban on rice exports, it will not have any effect on us," Bangladesh's Food Minister Sadhan Chandra Majumder told The Business Standard.
"Now the rice harvesting season is going on in our country. At the moment, we have no reason to think about the rice crisis," he added.
"Inflation is being tackled at the highest level. The price monitoring committee is meeting on every product and deciding the course of action," said an Indian official in the know of the details.
India is the world's second-largest rice producer after China. The country has exported rice to over 150 countries in fiscal 2021-22.
"Export restrictions on five products are being considered, of which wheat and sugar have already been covered," said another official of the neighbouring country.
Restrictions on rice could be similar to those on sugar whose exports have been capped at 10 million tonnes, said other sources.
Retail inflation hardened to an eight-year high of 7.79% in April prompting the Indian government to pitch in with containment measures.
These included a cut in excise duty on diesel and petrol, ₹200 subsidy on gas cylinders to Ujjwala beneficiaries, export curbs on wheat and sugar, lower import duty on raw materials of steel and plastic products, and a levy of export duty on iron ore and steel intermediates.
"Many countries now have an inward policy on essential grains. India wants to ensure food security for itself, its neighbours, and vulnerable countries," the first official said, adding that restrictions on non-basmati rice could be considered as it is consumed by one and all.
India exported $6.115 billion of non-basmati rice in FY22 and was the top forex earner across all agri-commodities last fiscal.
As per Second Advance Estimates for 2021-22, rice production during 2021-22 is estimated at a record 127.93 million tonnes, which is higher than the last five years' average production of 116.44 million tonnes.
According to the latest estimates of Bangladesh's food ministry, the country had a stock of 10.62 lakh tonnes of rice till 25 May. Additionally, there is a stock of 1.08 lakh tonnes of wheat and 0.11 lakh tonnes of paddy.
The government has already set a target of procuring 6.50 lakh tonnes of paddy and 11 lakh tonnes of parboiled rice in the current boro season.
According to officials at the food ministry, when the price of coarse rice in the country exceeded Tk50 per kg last year, an initiative was taken to import rice from India both at the government and private levels.
As per the data available with the ministry, from 1 July 2021 to 25 May, 6.79 lakh tonnes of rice were imported by the government and 3.06 lakh tonnes by the private sector.
In fiscal 2020-21, 5.73 lakh tonnes of rice were imported at the government level and 7.86 lakh tonnes by private entrepreneurs.