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Government Considers Lifting Curbs on Rice Exports Amid Surplus Stocks and Promising Monsoon Forecast

Rice export

In light of substantial surplus rice stocks and an optimistic forecast for the upcoming monsoon season, the Indian government is contemplating lifting the restrictions on rice exports imposed last year. This decision could significantly impact the global rice market and boost domestic agriculture.

Rationale Behind Potential Policy Change

The government's deliberation comes as the India Meteorological Department (IMD) predicts an 'above normal' monsoon for the June-September period, with a 90% chance of rains being in the "normal-to-excess" range. This favorable forecast is expected to enhance paddy sowing during the kharif season, which accounts for 80% of India's total rice output.

An official from the Ministry of Agriculture remarked, "Surplus stocks and prospects of bountiful monsoon rains augur well for lifting restrictions on rice exports." The government will assess the kharif paddy sowing, set to begin next month, before making a final decision on removing export curbs.

Current Rice Stock Situation

The Food Corporation of India (FCI) currently holds approximately 53.19 million tonnes (MT) of rice, including 31.81 MT of rice stocks and 21.38 MT of grain receivable from millers. This figure is nearly four times the buffer requirement of 13.54 MT for July 1. Despite a 7% decline in procurement this season compared to the last, the surplus remains substantial.

Retail rice prices had surged by 12.69% year-on-year in March, primarily due to inflation, which has been in double digits since October 2022. However, this price rise is expected to moderate in the coming months due to a higher base effect and improved supply conditions.

Impact of Previous Export Restrictions

Last year, the government banned white rice exports and imposed a 20% duty on parboiled rice shipments to stabilize domestic supplies amid soaring prices. Despite these measures, rice exports still reached a record 22 MT in FY23, underscoring India's role as the world's largest rice exporter since 2012, with over 40% of the global trade share.

The volume of exports fell to around 16 MT in the last fiscal year due to the restrictions. However, shipments of aromatic Basmati rice, which has a minimum export price of $950 per tonne, continued to meet international demand.

Future Outlook

Government agencies have so far received purchase indents for 1.5 MT of rice from organizations like Nafed, NCCF, and Kendriya Bhandar, which are distributing 'Bharat' rice at ₹29/kg through retail outlets. About 0.71 MT of grain has already been lifted by these agencies.

Furthermore, procurement efforts are ongoing in the rabi marketing season across states like Odisha, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, and Andhra Pradesh, targeting around 10 MT of rice. This is expected to further bolster the grain stock.

With the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana requiring around 40 MT of rice annually to support 800 million beneficiaries, the government's decision to potentially lift export restrictions could balance domestic needs with international trade opportunities.


As the government evaluates the forthcoming kharif season's prospects, the potential lifting of rice export restrictions reflects a strategic move to leverage India's agricultural abundance. This decision, poised to be finalized following a thorough assessment next month, could reinvigorate India's export market and stabilize global rice supplies.

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