UAE aims to look beyond India for rice
Dubai, September 15, 2010
The UAE should diversify its rice imports to avoid a drop in supply as the lion's share of the grain is being bought from India, a study from the Ministry of Foreign Trade said.
Last year the UAE imported 8.8 million tonnes of the water intensive grain, a five percent increase compared to the previous year, said a study conducted by the ministry's analysis and information department.
Around 72 percent of the rice was imported from India, 21 percent from Pakistan and 6 percent from Thailand, it said.
"[There's] an importance of avoiding the risks of relying on India and increasing Thailand's share," it added.
India, the world's second largest exporter of rice after Thailand, banned exports of non-basmati rice in 2008, as high prices of the grain put pressure on domestic supply.
Last month, the government allowed the export of 300,000 tonnes of non-basmati rice to Bangladesh as good rainfall and higher planting have boosted crop prospects.
Traders believe that rice exports from Pakistan will drop significantly this year after the worst floods in decades damaged about 700,000 hectares of crops.
"Right now it's hard to put an estimate on how badly the exports will be affected, but I'm sure the result will be severe," said a Gulf-based trader.
Between 2005-2009 the ministry's study indicated the UAE grew more reliant on Indian rice, at the expense of Pakistani rice, while Thailand's share remained the same. - Reuters