Amid the rise in rice prices, the Union government has extended the 20 per cent export duty on parboiled rice indefinitely. It has also decided to continue allowing the zero-duty import regime for yellow peas, subject to the Bill of Lading issued on or before April 30, 2024.

The 20 per cent duty on parboiled rice was set to expire on March 31, 2024. The Finance Ministry notified the decision after the Committee of Ministers, headed by Cooperation Minister Amit Shah, approved the proposal, mooted by the Consumer Affairs and Food Ministry, sources said.

Official data show that the pan India average retail prices of rice increased to ₹44.11/kg (0.34 per cent) in a week as of February 20 while its wholesale prices went up to ₹3,876/quintal (0.07 per cent) . But rice inflation is higher year-on-year – 15 per cent in retail and wholesale as of February 20.

Measures to curb inflation

The government has taken several measures, including a weekly auction of rice from Central Pool stocks and retail sales at a subsidised rate of ₹290/10 kg bag to reduce inflation.

The export of parboiled non-Basmati rice was 58 lakh tonnes (lt) between April 2023 and January 24, 2024, as against 62 lt in the year-ago period. India has also exported 21 lt of raw non-Basmati rice under government-to-government request, as against 50 lt in the year-ago period.

India began to curb rice exports in September 2022, when it first banned shipments of broken rice and imposed a duty on white rice consignments. In June 2023, it banned exports of white rice and later imposed a 20 per cent duty on parboiled rice.

Despite the curbs, India topped rice exports in 2023, with 16.5 million tonnes being shipped out of the country. This included basmati rice, estimated to have made up about 4 million tonnes.

According to the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), non-basmati rice exports during April-December 2023 dropped by 28 per cent to 8.34 mt valued at $3.34 billion against 13.18 mt valued at $4.66 billion. Basmati exports during the same period were up 19 per cent at 3.97 mt valued at $3.97 billion against 3.20 mt valued at $3.34 billion.

The measures were undertaken in 2022 when paddy-growing areas in the eastern region received deficient rains due to the impact of the southwest monsoon. The shortage was, however, made up in the rabi sowing.

In 2023, kharif paddy was affected by a deficient southwest monsoon. This resulted in the Centre banning exports of white rice, imposing an export duty on parboiled rice and fixing $950/tonne as the minimum export price for basmati rice.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare has estimated that 2023 kharif rice production will be 3.8 per cent lower at 106.31 mt against 110.51 mt in 2022. The decision was made to curb rising food prices, too.