Scramble for Rice in America
Indian Diaspora does not need to worry as there are enough rice stocks in the US
By keeping the vagaries of the monsoon in mind and to ensure enough food stock in the country for any eventuality, the Government of India has temporarily banned the exports of non-basmati white rice. But this seems to be having an adverse impact on the Indian diaspora, particularly those in the United States.
Indian–Americans and Non Resident Indians in the US are seen to be resorting to panic-buying of rice, often resulting in the hoarding of rice at grocery stores across the United States. It is reported that long lines have formed outside Indian grocery stores in many parts of the USA.
The price of a 9.0 kg bag was earlier quoted at Rs 1,309-1,470. Now its price has more than doubled. In some places, the price of each bag went up to Rs 3,280.
There was panic buying in major cities such as Michigan, Texas, and New Jersey. Some stores have imposed sales limits, such as selling only one rice bag per customer in those cities in America.
Rice continues to be a staple food for many Indians abroad, particularly those having roots in southern, eastern, and western parts of India.
India exports 40% of rice in the world, which amounted to 55.4 million metric tons in 2022. India’s rice shipments reached a record 22.2 million tons in 2022, more than the combined shipments of the world’s next four biggest exporters of grain – Thailand, Vietnam, Pakistan, and the United States.
The exports have significantly impacted the global supply chain as India started to export rice all over the world. Suddenly, the Asian rice trade paused to digest the implications of this ban, with traders predicting that prices would climb substantially in the coming days.
It is also said by the American authorities that Indians residing in the US need not worry about the availability of rice as there are enough rice stocks in the country.
It is reported that around 12,000 metric tonnes of rice stocks are available in the US, and another 18,000 metric tonnes of rice is being transported from India. These reserves will be enough for six months, it is estimated.
Rice exporters in India also believe that the Modi government will soon take the right decision, keeping in mind the requirements of the Indian Diaspora, for which it has always shown its admiration.
The Indian & American traders say that minimum 6,000 metric tonnes of non-basmati rice is exported from India to the USA every month. The States of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh account for 4,000 metric tonnes.
“NRIs should exercise restraint and remain calm when it comes to buying rice. There are enough stocks available. It’s painful and worrisome to see people spending more on rice due to shortage fears. This problem will not continue for long,” said Kiran Kumar Pola, Director, Deccan Grainz India, a leading rice exporter from Hyderabad has been quoted to have said.
Pointing out that Indians in the US largely consume Sona Masoori rice, Kiran Kumar has urged the central government to exempt Sona Masoori rice from the ban.
“Agriculture sector and consumers will benefit if the central government creates separate classifications for non-basmati rice. The government should also keep in mind the needs of Indians living overseas. Their concerns should also be addressed. Besides, the central government can regulate the classification of rice varieties. This will lead to better pricing, distribution, and export opportunities,” he said.
The government should also monitor various qualities of rice, demand them in domestic as well as international markets, and challenges faced by farmers and consumers, he suggested Rs 8,200 Cr orders in trouble.
The Modi Government is expected to take these points into consideration.