Haryana, India CNN –
Satish Kumar sits in front of his submerged paddy field in the Indian state of Haryana, looking in despair at his ruined crops.
“I have suffered a huge loss,” said the third-generation farmer, who relies entirely on growing grains to feed his young family. “I won’t be able to grow anything until November.”
Newly planted saplings have been submerged in water since July following torrential rains and landslides and flash floods in northern India.
Kumar said he has not seen floods of this scale in many years and has been forced to take loans to re-sow his fields. But that is not the only problem he is facing.
Last month, India, the world’s largest rice exporter, announced a ban on exports of non-basmati white rice to calm rising prices domestically and ensure food security. India then imposed further restrictions on its rice exports, including a 20% duty on exports of parboiled rice.
The move has raised fears of global food inflation, harming the livelihoods of some farmers and prompting many rice-dependent countries to demand an immediate exemption from the ban.
More than three billion people around the world depend on rice as a staple food and India contributes about 40% of global rice exports.
Economists say the ban is the latest step to disrupt global food supplies, which have been hit by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as well as weather events such as El Niño.
He warned that the Indian government’s decision could have a significant adverse effect on the market, and particularly the poor in the global south.
And farmers like Kumar say the increase in market prices due to bad harvests doesn’t give them a windfall,
“The ban is going to have an adverse effect on all of us. If the rice is not exported, we will not get the higher rate,” Kumar said. “The flood was a death blow to us farmers. This ban will destroy us.”
Panic buying triggered in the United States after the sudden announcement of an export ban According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the price of rice reached its highest level in almost 12 years.
This does not apply to basmati rice, which is India’s most famous and highest quality variety. However, exports of non-basmati white rice account for about 25%.
India was not the first country to ban food exports to ensure an adequate supply for domestic consumption. But the move, which came just a week after Russia pulled out of the Black Sea grain accord – a key agreement that allowed grain exports from Ukraine – contributed to global concerns about grain availability and whether millions could go hungry. Will remain
“The key thing here is that it’s not just one thing,” Arif Hussain, chief economist for the United Nations World Food Program (WFP), told CNN. ,[Rice, wheat and corn crops] Poor people around the world make up a large part of the food they eat.”
Nepal has seen rice prices rise since India announced the ban, according to local media reports, and rice prices in Vietnam are at their highest in more than a decade, according to customs data.
Thailand, the world’s second-biggest rice exporter after India, has also seen domestic rice prices jump significantly in recent weeks, according to data from the Thai Rice Exporters Association.
According to local Indian media reports, countries including Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines have appealed to New Delhi to resume rice exports to their countries. CNN has reached out to India’s Ministry of Agriculture but has not received a response.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has encouraged India to lift sanctions, with the organisation’s chief economist Pierre-Olivier Gourinches telling reporters last month that food inflation was “likely to increase”.
“We would encourage the removal of these types of export restrictions because they can be globally damaging,” he said.
Economists have warned that now, there are fears the ban will leave world markets open to similar action by rival suppliers.
“The export ban is coming at a time when countries are grappling with high debt, food inflation and falling currencies,” WFP’s Hussain said. “It’s upsetting for everybody.”
Indian farmers make up about half of the country’s workforce, according to government data, rice paddy is cultivated mainly in central, southern and some northern states.
Planting of summer crops usually begins in June, when monsoon rains are expected to start, as irrigation is important for raising healthy yields. According to Reuters, the summer season accounts for more than 80% of India’s total rice production.
However, due to the late arrival of monsoon this year, there was a severe water shortage by mid-June. And when it finally rained, it soaked much of the country, causing floods that caused significant damage to crops.
Surjit Singh, 53, a third-generation farmer from Haryana, said he “lost everything” after the rains.
“My rice crop has been ruined,” he said. “About 8-10 inches of my crop got submerged in water. What I had planted (in early June) was destroyed… I would have lost about 30%.
The World Meteorological Organization warned last month that governments should prepare for more extreme weather events and record temperatures, as it announced the start of the warming phenomenon El Niño.
El Niño is a natural climate pattern in the tropical Pacific Ocean that causes sea surface temperatures to be warmer than average and has a major impact on weather around the world, affecting billions of people.
Its effects have been felt by thousands of farmers in India, some of whom say they will now grow crops other than rice. And it doesn’t stop here.
In one of the biggest rice trading hubs in New Delhi, there are fears among traders that the export ban will have disastrous consequences.
Rice trader Roopkaran Singh said, “Due to the export ban, traders are left with huge stocks.” “Now we have to find new buyers in the domestic market.”
But experts have warned that its impact will be felt far beyond India’s borders.
“Poor countries, countries that import food, countries in West Africa, they’re most at risk,” WFP’s Hussein said. “The embargo is being imposed due to war and a global pandemic… We need to be extra careful when it comes to our core products, so that we do not raise prices unnecessarily. Because those hikes are not without consequence.”