Rice prices in Asia have reportedly risen to their highest levels in nearly 15 years, owing to growing fears over global supply as dry weather threatens output in Thailand and after top shipper India put a ban on certain exports. According to data from the Thai Rice Exporters Association, Thai white rice 5 per cent broken, an Asian benchmark, jumped to $648 a tonne, the most expensive since October 2008.
That brings the increase in prices to almost 50 per cent in the past year, news agency IANS reported citing Bloomberg. Rice is essential to the diets of billions of people in Asia and Africa, and the price increase might exacerbate inflationary pressures and increase import bills for importers, the report stated. The latest supply threat comes from Thailand, the world’s second-largest shipper. Authorities are encouraging farmers to switch to crops which require less water as the country prepares for drier weather caused by El Nino.
Cumulative rainfall in the major central growing region is 40% below normal, and the decision to reduce planting is intended to save water for households. The government has already instructed farms to harvest only one crop this year. Meanwhile, India expanded its shipment embargo last month to preserve domestic stocks, causing panic buying in several countries. The restrictions heightened concerns about global scarcity in the face of rising global consumption.
IMF ‘encourages’ India to lift export restrictions on rice
Earlier on July 26, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) stated that it will “encourage” India to lift restrictions on the export of a specific type of rice. The UN financial agency claimed export restrictions by India would have an impact on global inflation. This comes after non-basmati white rice exports were outlawed by the Indian government on July 20 in an effort to increase domestic supplies and regulate retail prices during the upcoming festive season. This variety of rice constitutes about 25 per cent of the total rice exported from the country.
(With inputs from agencies)
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