October 19, 2023
MANILA – The Indian government has given the green light to supply more than 1 million metric tons of nonbasmati white rice to seven countries—with the Philippines receiving the highest allocation—amid its export ban.
Based on the Oct. 18 notification issued by India’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry, a total of 1.03 million MT of rice will be exported to Nepal, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Republic of Guinea, Malaysia, the Philippines and Seychelles.
All shipments will be facilitated via a government-to-government (G2G) scheme by India’s National Cooperative Exports Ltd.
Federation of Free Farmers national manager Raul Montemayor said this latest development does not guarantee that the Philippines will be able to secure rice from India.
“First, it depends on the price. Second, and most important, the quality. In the past, our local importers have not secured rice from India despite significantly lower prices, most probably due to concerns about quality and reliability of supply,” Montemayor said.
He also said the volume provided by India is “not that significant, assuming it is fully utilized” since the total rice import requirement is about 2.5 to 3 million MT annually.
Among the seven nations, the bulk of rice exports went to the Philippines with 295,000 MT, equivalent to a share of 28.5 percent, followed by Cameroon with 190,000 MT.
This transpired after India imposed a moratorium on exporting nonbasmati white rice in July this year—a move questioned by the World Trade Organization due to its impact on the global food market—to stabilize its supply and temper rising prices.
Yet in the Philippines, Vietnam remains the top supplier of rice according to the latest government data.
The country imported 2.68 million MT of rice as of Sept. 6, based on the Bureau of Plant Industry’s (BPI’s) latest tally. Vietnam delivered 89.75 percent or 2.4 million MT of the total. India shipped 13,579.39 MT of imported rice, reflecting a meager share of 0.5 percent.
Agriculture Undersecretary Leocadio Sebastian said earlier that the country’s rice imports may reach 3.1 million MT this year against the US Department of Agriculture’s estimate of 3.5 million MT.
Separately, BPI director Gerald Glenn Panganiban had assured the country of a stable supply of rice in the last three months of the year as it is expected to harvest 1.9 million MT of rice within the month, tantamount to a buffer stock of 74 days.