A bumper rice output may prompt India to lift export curbs on non-Basmati varieties by May, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations (UN) said in a report. The curbs are expected to be lifted either in April or May 2009, FAO said in its February Rice Market Monitor. However, India is expected to go to polls in a couple of months and the new government, which can take policy decisions, will be in place in late May or early July only. Among the major world rice suppliers, India and Egypt maintain export restrictions as fears of food inflation in those countries have not yet waned. The government had banned export of non-Basmati rice in April 2008 when inflation was running high. Easing of restrictions could boost rice exports, which is pegged at four million tonne in 2009 against 3.6 million tonne in the corresponding year, the UN body said.
Despite curbs on exports of non-Basmati rice, India is still ranked third among world exporters, the report said. According to official data, India is estimated to produce a record 98.89 million tonne of rice in 2008-09 against 96.69 million tonne in the previous year.