Thailand and Vietnam are set to benefit after India’s decision to restrict the export of rice has left Africa with a supply shortage. India banned the export of broken rice and imposed a 20% tariff on white and brown rice after uneven monsoon rains disrupted the planting season. India is a top supplier of low-grade rice variety to Africa where it is makes for a staple diet. Senegal, Djibouti, Côte d'Ivoire, Ethiopia, and Madagascar made up the top five buyers of Indian broken rice in 2020. Broken rice is fragments of rice grains, damaged in the field or during drying, transport, and milling. Thailand and Vietnam – the world’s second and third-largest rice exporters, respectively – are now well positioned to plug the gap. Thailand already ships 37% of its output to Africa while its regional competitor Vietnam exports 21% of its output to the same. They may not, however, be able to fully meet African demand for rice. India exported 3.89 million tonnes of broken rice in 2022. Together Vietnam and Thailand will be able to supply a maximum of two million tonnes of additional rice (all varieties). The only other big rice growing competitor to India – Pakistan – has been hit by severe floods. Its rice output is expected to fall by 18%. Other Asian rice producers such as Bangladesh and the Philippines have also been impacted by unfavourable weather conditions this year.
Several African countries have announced measures to boost domestic rice production, but these are unlikely to yield significant result in the short term. President Macky Sall of Senegal plans to hold talks with India to secure rice supplies. The West African state is an exporter of phosphoric acid which allows India to make fertilisers.
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