June 4, 2019 | Green Energy

India’s rice exports to West Africa rebound since 2020 following tough 2018-2019

India’s rice exports to West Africa rebounded significantly in 2020, rising to 4.38bn kg, surpassing previous highs of 3.48bn kg in 2017, and continue to be strong in 2021 after a difficult 2018 and 2019 (Figure 1). In 2018 India’s rice exports faced a ‘perfect storm’ of new EU quality standards, import duties in Bangladesh and lower cost rice from competitors China and Thailand. This drove down total rice exports -39% to 7.3bn kg, and rice exports to West Africa down -33% yoy to 2.32bn kg, although they rose to 32% of the total, as the demand drop from other regions was even more material. While total rice exports picked up 33% in 2019, exports to West Africa edged down another -1.0% to 2.30bn kg, at just 23% of the total, as West Africa continued to build-up rice stocks from lower cost competitors

In contrast, 2020 was a boon for India rice exports, with demand from West Africa surging as the region built up stocks for food security and exports from competing countries declined as they shored up internal supplies. Meanwhile, prices for some Indian rice varieties fell, and the country became viewed as a reliable supplier as it did not cut rice exports, in contrast to some competitors, while falling freight rates and increased availability of containers eliminated some export constraints. The momentum appears to be continuing this year, with West African countries continuing to build up stocks, and Indian rice sowing up substantially, boosting rice export potential. Benin, at 23%, and Senegal and Togo, both at 17%, of India’s total rice exports to West Africa, are the big three markets, with Cote D’Ivoire, Guinea and Liberia also large importers (Figure 2). While exports to Benin dipped as a percentage of total Indian rice exports in 2018, and then Senegal in 2019, both markets returned to a high share in 2020.

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