India may import rice in 2010: IRRI

Written by Bloomberg | Updated: Oct 31 2009, 04:54am hrs
India, the worlds second-largest rice grower, may become a net importer for the first time in 21 years in 2010, potentially sparking the kind of panic that sent prices to records in 2008, an agricultural economist said.

India may import as much as 3 million tonne next year after the wet season harvest plunged, Samarendu Mohanty, a senior economist at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), said in an interview. Those would be the imports since 2006, according to US department of agriculture data.

Food price protests swept the globe from Bangladesh to Haiti last year after fears of shortages prompted producers including India to cut rice exports and importers increased purchases to secure supplies, sending prices to a record. India can start it again, Mohanty, author of Financial Volatility in Agricultural Trade published in 2002, said yesterday in an interview in Cebu, central Philippines. If rice prices rise, there will be civil unrest in many countries.

Rice for January delivery gained 0.5% to $14.255 per 100 pounds on the Chicago Board of Trade as of 4:18 pm in Singapore, extending Wednesdays 3% jump. The price reached a record $25.07 in April 2008. Indias wet season harvest, which accounts for 80% of total output, may slump as much as 24% to 65 million tonne, from 85 million a year ago, said Mohanty. The nation is forecast to continue exporting higher-priced basmati rice, with shipments of up to 2.5 million tonne, Mohanty said.