Confined to the coronavirus, India sharply slows rice exports

Audio 1:55

A woman spreads rice for drying in a rice mill on the outskirts of Kolkata, India. REUTERS / Rupak De Chowdhuri

By: Claire Fages Follow

In India, the confinement of the population slows rice exports. Shipments to Africa are delayed as the Asian supply tightens.


Vietnam, the world's third largest supplier of rice, had already decided to quota its exports a week ago, to preserve its stocks, in the face of the coronavirus epidemic.

In India, the world's leading exporter, no quotas or embargo, but logistics totally disorganized by confinement imposed until April 21. Even if the activity restrictions do not target the agro-food chain, the trucks circulate badly, the workforce is less numerous in the rice mills supposed to peel the paddy and in the ports to load the milled rice on the boats.

The administrative services no longer deliver the documents in due time, says Mamadou Ciss, of Alliance Commodities. According to this trader, Indian exports have been divided by three, while India's stocks are full of paddy rice.

Vietnam, India, Pakistan, Burma decrease their supply of rice

Other Asian countries are slowing rice shipments. Pakistan suffers from the same logistical problems as India. Burma requires, it is new, export licenses and its administration does not grant any more, notes Jean-Pierre Brun, French merchant.

In short, there is practically only Thailand which regularly supplies rice. The price of the 5% Thai broken product, which refers to the world level, naturally soared, going from 410 dollars per ton to 600 in three weeks.

Chinese rice, not yet a sufficient alternative for African countries

Africa still has rice stocks, but the authorities of the importing countries are preparing for the future. This is what another source of trading observes. Do not panic but African governments are learning about the alternatives since we will miss an order cycle, which lasts around fifty days between Asian ports and African ports. China is a potential supplier with its stocks of round rice suitable for the taste of broken rice from certain West African countries. And it is resuming its exports after having slowed them down in February-March.

But for now, at the same rate as before the epidemic. On the rise or not of Chinese sales, the more or less rapid return of India and Vietnam will depend on future price developments.

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