Non-basmati rice from India makes up about 17 per cent of Singapore’s imported rice, says the Singapore Food Agency.
SINGAPORE: Singapore is in close contact with Indian authorities to seek exemption from the country’s ban on the export of non-basmati rice, said the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) on Friday (Jul 28).
India, the world’s biggest rice exporter, banned some overseas sales of rice with immediate effect last Thursday.
India’s consumer affairs and food ministry said the country would ban exports of non-basmati white rice, which accounts for about a quarter of its total exports. The move would “ensure adequate availability” and “allay the rise in prices in the domestic market”, it added.
Non-basmati rice from India makes up about 17 per cent of Singapore’s imported rice, said SFA in response to CNA queries.
In 2022, India accounted for about 40 per cent of Singapore’s imported rice, said the agency, adding that the latter imports rice from more than 30 countries.
“SFA is working closely with importers to increase the import of different varieties of rice from various sources. Singapore is also in close contact with the Indian authorities to seek exemption from the ban,” said SFA in its statement.
India accounts for more than 40 per cent of all global rice shipments, so the decision could “risk exacerbating food insecurity in countries highly dependent on rice imports”, data analytics firm Gro Intelligence said in a note.
Countries expected to be hit by the ban include African nations, Turkey, Syria, and Pakistan – all of them already struggling with high food-price inflation, the firm added.
Global demand saw Indian exports of non-basmati white rice jump 35 per cent year-on-year in the second quarter, said India’s consumer affairs and food ministry at the time of the announcement.
The increase came even after the Indian government banned broken rice shipments and imposed a 20 per cent export tax on white rice in September.
Under Singapore’s Rice Stockpile Scheme, rice importers must hold a buffer inventory equivalent to twice of their monthly imports. This helps to ensure an adequate supply of rice in the market, said SFA in its statement.
“We review the inventory buffers regularly and stand ready to work closely with the industry if any adjustments are needed,” said the agency.
“Nevertheless, (we) can expect supply disruption from time to time and while the government will do what we can to minimise the impact, we will not be able to completely mitigate disruptions to our food supply.”
Singapore’s overall supply of rice is “currently stable” and there is enough rice for everyone “if everyone buys just what we need”, said SFA.
“Consumers are also encouraged to be flexible and adaptable by switching to other varieties of rice, or other sources of carbohydrates in the event of disruption.”