New Delhi/Mumbai: The country may produce 5% more rice this year compared with a year ago after monsoon rains spurred planting, a gain that may help the nation ease export curbs.
Production of the monsoon crop will exceed 84 million tonnes, or mt, Union food secretary T. Nanda Kumar said in New Delhi on Monday.
A bigger harvest may prompt India, the world’s biggest grower of rice after China, to ease export curbs, which could lead to further easing global prices that have dropped 33% from a record high in April.
Thailand and Vietnam, the world’s biggest rice shippers, have raised export forecasts this year as farmers planted more in response to higher prices. “We’ll wait till October before we take any decision on relaxing exports,” said Kumar. “We need to see the actual crop size. Exports as food aid will continue.”
The country banned rice exports in April to rein in prices after demand for the grain in government welfare programmes doubled in five years.
“The government should allow limited exports as there’s no logic in keeping a blanket ban,” said Vijay Setia, president of the All India Rice Exporters Association. “The crop is looking better, prices have fallen and stockpiles are comfortable. Everything is in favour for easing the ban.”
The country’s farmers planted rice in 28.2 million ha as of 18 August this year compared with 25.6 million ha a year earlier. The monsoon was 36% above average in the week ended 13 August, according to the weather office. Rains were 2% above average between 1 June and 13 August, the agency said.