India should take the lead in importing more rice, the World Bank has said, saying its rice supply could be boosted by raising the price of pulses by 30% or more.
India’s annual rice output has fallen to 5.1 billion tonnes, the lowest in the world, from 6.4 billion tonnes in 2012.
The International Rice Research Institute said in a statement that India should boost its rice consumption by 30%, as it was being “oversupplied”.
The statement said, “The rice trade in India, however, is currently the lowest of the developed countries and is falling due to the impact of drought in the country, the increasing impact of climate change and the ongoing drought in Bangladesh, where over 70 million people are in need of urgent food assistance.”
In India, there are no rice crops which are in surplus and hence demand is expected to rise due to increasing demand for food and other resources due to climate change, increased drought and the continuing drought in Nepal.
“The World Bank’s statement said India was a “major rice producer” with the country supplying “at least 70% of the world’s rice”.”
The current drought has impacted production in India due to reduced rainfall and increased temperatures,” it said.”
The country has seen rice yields decline by as much as 40% in recent years.
“However, the current situation is unlikely to change and is likely to worsen, due to growing pressure on the country’s agricultural sector and the increased availability of rice.”
In addition, the statement said the government should increase subsidies for rice, to encourage investment in the sector.
India has also reduced its exports of pulses, the main staple of the foodgrain industry, to boost its supply, it said, but could be able to increase its imports from Pakistan and Bangladesh.
The World Food Programme has estimated that the global demand for pulses has increased by 70% since 2015.
The government has not responded to a request for comment on the rice issue.