India’s Rice Ban and Its Effect On the Global Food Scene

Over the summer, India banned the export of non-Basmati rice to control the rising domestic prices of the cereal. This comes after widespread floods across Pakistan and India destroyed crops, diminishing supply and increasing domestic prices. 

The news at the tail end of July this year led to widespread cases of panic-buying of the grain. Consequently, shelves at Indian stores in the United States and Canada were cleaned out, and prices went up.

But the woes of the rice-lover stuck away from home did not end there. India followed its ban on export with further restrictions. It introduced a duty of 20% on parboiled rice exports. This move was intended to ensure food security in addition to controlling the price of rice at home. But the move has global implications.

The Results of the Ban

Earlier this year, the northern regions of India and Pakistan saw torrential rain levels that drowned the newly developed rice saplings. This led to a shortage of rice country-wide, and the cost of the grain rose to meet it. As the people of the country struggled, and with farmers unable to plant a new batch of rice crops before November, the Indian government implemented the export ban.

Currently, India is the leading exporter of rice in the world, supplies the necessary staple to almost three billion people worldwide. India accounts for nearly half, or precisely 40%, of the global rice export. So, the ban has caused severe concern regarding how it would affect food security across nations. The ban has strained the global market and may destabilize the global food scene.

The results are multi-layered. Across the United States and Canada, people panic-bought the grain in bulk. After all, rice is not just a staple in the Indian subcontinent but is consumed almost equally fervently worldwide and is a staple in many food dishes.

Despite repeated assurance from store management that they expect to meet the rising demand with adequate supply, like toilet paper in 2020, store racks remained empty of rice bags as people stocked up for the rainy days ahead.

The echoes of the ban are also being felt in Germany and other countries in the European Union. Maximilian John, journalist at Main-Echo, says, “Due to generally high inflation, prices for rice in Germany have already risen since early 2022. While there hasn't been another significant price hike in supermarkets since the ban, it's probably only a matter of time til the high prices for rice on the world market will also be felt by consumers.”

The consequences of this ban aren't just limited to supermarkets in developed countries running out of rice, but global inflation and a destabilized food scene that directly affects several Asian and African nations. Asia's rice prices have reached their highest point in the past 15 years. 

Several countries already reached out to India seeking to be exempt from the ban.

There is also concern about Vietnam and Thailand's stance in the scenario. Will they follow India's decision with a tightening on rice exports of their own? If that is the case, the price of the grain could inflate to inaccessible levels worldwide. As always, the price surge is, and will continue to, affect the poorer consumers, especially those in developing countries.

At the same time, Russia announced their decision to pull out of the Black Sea grain deal. This prohibits Ukraine from exporting grains, further destabilizing the global food scene.

So far, the situation looks grim. While China seemed to have dodged long bouts of bad weather, Thailand expects to be hit by severe drought by the beginning of next year. The Philippines was forced to put a cap on surging prices of the grain in the first week of September.

Meanwhile, it is not the consumers who are suffering from the ban. With rice no longer exported, farmers are forced to charge less for the grain. This, combined with the already limited stock, can hurt farmers' livelihoods in the country in the long run.

The impact of this, combined with the warning issued by the World Meteorological Organization about the oncoming bout of El Niño that will affect the weather across continents, could be a severe cause for concern regarding global food security.

This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.

Author: Ananyaa Bhowmik


Ananyaa Bhowmik is a neurodivergent and queer pop-culture journalist with the Wealth of Geeks. She has previously worked with brands like Sterling Holidays, Myntra, Bajaj, and the Loud Interactive. She is an independent scholar, cat parent, and performance poet. Her areas of research and interest focus on and around digital marketing, Canadian indigenous history, queerness in media, and pop-culture and fandom studies.