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rice export ban: US: NRIs bringing home dozens of rice bags as India bans exports

The Non-Resident Indians in the US are bringing home dozens of rice bags fearing shortage amid ban by the Indian government on export of non-Basmati rice varieties.

According to a TOI report, the ban has triggered panic buying in the Telugu community in North America, Europe and West Asia over a possible shortage of rice. This, in turn, has led to long queues outside Indian grocery stores in the region.

“A bag of 9kg rice is sold at $27,” stated the TOI report.

The prominent Indian grocery stores in major cities including Texas, Michigan and New Jersey are crowded with people, mostly Telugu population. These stores have also put in place a few restrictions on sales saying only one rice bag per customer would be sold.

In Alabama and Illinois, the situation is somewhat better. “We have witnessed prices skyrocketing during the pandemic. With that precedent, people are rushing to stash rice in advance,” TOI quoted Krishna Mohan S, from Detroit, as saying. He had faced a similar situation. He said the reason for panic could be twofold. One, there might be a shortage or no supply of fine variety rice like Sona Mahsuri and there is every possibility of jacking up of prices.

Meanwhile, in the UK, Ireland, no such rush was witnessed, as per Jayanth Reddy Mettu, who runs a restaurant in Dublin. S Ramakrishna Prasad from Dubai also observed that there was no shortage of supplies of Sona Mahsuri as yet. However, the major concern now is there could be a further jump in prices of rice which are already on the higher side since Covid-19. India, on July 20, amended the rice export norms putting the non-basmati white rice in the “prohibited” category.

The export policy relating to non-basmati white rice (Semi-milled or wholly milled rice, whether or not polished or glazed: Other) has been revised from “free” to “prohibited” and it has come into force immediately, a Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) notification said.

West African country Benin is one of the major importers of non-basmati rice from India. Other destination countries are Nepal, Bangladesh, China, Cote D’Ivoire, Togo, Senegal, Guinea, Vietnam, Djibouti, Madagascar, Cameroon Somalia, Malaysia, Liberia, and UAE.

India in September 2022 banned the exports of broken rice and imposed a 20 per cent duty on exports of non-Basmati rice, except for parboiled rice amid concerns about overestimated low production due to a fall in area under the paddy crop. It later lifted the ban in November.

(With inputs from agencies)

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