Rice insecurity

Source– The post is based on the article “Rice insecurity” published in The Indian Express on 7th October 2022.

Syllabus: GS3- Agriculture

Relevance– Agriculture marketing and pricing

News- The article explains the issues with the current government move to ban the export of rice. It also tells about the challenges for long-term sustainability of rice cultivation.

Government wants to regulate domestic prices and safeguard food security through this move.

What will be the impact of export ban on rice?

India exports rice to more than 130 countries. It constitutes 40% of global rice trade. Further 90 per cent of rice production across the world is consumed domestically. As a result, any small change in exports and imports has an enormous impact on prices.

The export uncertainties will affect the credibility of Indian exporters and create a disincentive for future exports. It will enable buyers to shift towards other major rice-exporting countries.

The export restriction may lead to fall in prices. It will impact Indian farmers.

India’s export restrictions will adversely affect several low-income and low-middle-income countries like Bangladesh, Senegal, Nepal. These are among the largest importers of Indian rice.

What are the challenges for long-term sustainability of rice cultivation?

Around 49 per cent of rice cultivation depends on groundwater. It is depleting rapidly. As per the FAO data, agricultural water withdrawal as a percentage of total available renewable water resources has increased from 26.7% in 1993 to 36% in 2022. The total per capita renewable water resources have also declined from 1909 cubic metres to 1412 cubic metres during this period.

Rice exports are leading to an indirect export of water to other countries. It is known as the virtual water trade.

The MSP regime is not sustainable. It is mainly available for wheat and rice. Further there is a skewed distribution towards selected states like Punjab and Haryana. The cost of cultivation in India is also increasing, and hence there will be a need for a higher MSP to make production remunerative

India’s rice yield is also lower than the world average.

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