Rice-eating African countries are addicted to the taste of Indian rice. “Though there are other options for importing rice, such as China, Thailand, and Vietnam, to replace Indian imports, we are addicted to the taste of Indian rice.”
If you happen to meet a random person in Abidjan, the capital of Cote d’Ivoire (also known as Ivory Coast), and introduce yourself as a visitor from India, the first question you will be asked is, “When is your India lifting the ban on rice exports?”
There is a reason for their excitement. Rice prices in the 29-million populated country have risen by 25-30% since India restricted rice exports a few months ago. Though it is primarily an agricultural country, its primary crops are cocoa, rubber, and coffee, with rice accounting for only 6% of the country’s arable land.
While India banned white rice exports on July 20, it imposed a 20% export duty on parboiled rice beginning August 26. Also Read | Agritech CropIn partnered with African Mucheki to create digital ecosystem
“It is not just about Cote d’Ivoire; it applies to the entire West African bloc as well as some other African countries.” “We’re hoping to get Indian rice sooner,” an agricultural trader said.
The rice eatersCote d’Ivoire, like many other African countries, relies on rice imports, primarily parboiled rice, to meet domestic demand. The fact that Cote d’Ivoire is the fourth largest importer of Indian rice demonstrates the country’s reliance on India. In 2022-23, it contributed 6.6% of India’s total non-basmati rice export of 18 million tonnes. The value of its rice imports from India totaled $420 million.
“Rice prices in the city have risen by up to 30% since the ban (on white rice).” “A 25-kg bag costs 19,000 CFA francs (XOF in currency market), compared to 14,000 francs before the export ban earlier this year,” Isabelle (name changed), a homemaker, said. (One Rs is worth about 7.5 local francs.)
Hooked to Indian rice
“We eat it three times per day and don’t grow rice.” It is less expensive for us to import it rather than grow it here. Though there are other options for importing rice, such as China, Thailand, and Vietnam, to replace Indian imports, we are addicted to the taste of Indian rice,” said.
According to the US Department of Agriculture, the sharp increase in rice prices (following India’s export ban) “is expected to disproportionately impact countries in import-dependent Sub-Saharan Africa” in mid-September 2023.
Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for three of India’s top five export markets, with each receiving more than one million tonnes of Indian rice in 2022. By far the largest supplier to these and many other countries in the region is India. In 2022-23, Cote d’Ivoire imported 1.2 million tonnes from India.
According to an IFPRI (International Food Policy Research Institute) blog, India’s rice market share in 2022 will exceed 80% for several African countries, indicating their reliance on Indian rice.
According to N’Khoh Abroise, a cocoa farmer from Abey Benigni village, a two-hour drive from the country’s capital, Indian rice is popular in Cote d’Ivoire. “It’s more expensive to grow rice here than to import it from elsewhere.” “Rice is consumed in the country’s north and west,” he explained.