The Singapore Food Agency (SFA) has said it is in contact with Indian authorities seeking an exemption from the ban on exports of (non-basmati) white rice.

In a statement to the media, SFA said through its forward looking strategies such as the Rice Stockpile Scheme, “our overall supply of rice is currently stable and there is enough rice for everyone if everyone buys what we need”.

Under the Rice Stockpile Scheme, rice importers are required to hold an inventory equivalent to twice their monthly imports. This will ensure adequate supply of rice in the market.

India’s share in imports

“We review the inventory buffers regularly and stand ready to work closely with the industry, if any adjustments are needed,” the statement said.

Singapore accounted for 40 per cent of Singapore’s rice imports, “Only the import of non-basmati (rice) is affected by the ban,” it said. Shipments of non-basmati rice make up 17 per cent of the total rice imports.

Nevertheless, there could be supply disruption and the Singapore Government will do “what we can to minimise the impact”. “We will not be able to completely mitigate disruptions to our food supply,” the SFA said.

The agency said consumers “are encouraged to be flexible and adaptable” by switching to other varieties of rice, or other sources of carbohydrates “in the event of disruption”.

Imports from 30 nations

Singapore has a multi-pronged strategy of import diversifications and stockpiling to manage supply chain disruptions to rice imports, it said. The island-nation imports rice from over 30 countries.

The statement comes in the wake of India’s July 20 ban on exports of white rice and prices of rice soaring in the global market above $600 a tonne. Indian parboiled rice and Thailand’s 25 per cent broken are the only varieties ruling below $600.

The Indian government banned exports of white rice as part of its efforts to control rising foodgrain prices in a crucial year ahead of the 2024 Parliament elections. The move was a measure to overcome any supply shortage in view of rains damaging paddy crops in Punjab and Haryana, besides deficient rains affecting the sowing of paddy in Karnataka, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Tamil Nadu, and Andhra Pradesh.

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