Rice insecurity 

Rice insecurity 

Rice Insecurity 

The topic is based on Rice Insecurity. The article tells how “Rice Insecurity” impacts India’s Economic and Social Development

Prelims: Economic and Social Development

Mains: GS III: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development, and employment, Major crops-cropping patterns in various parts of the country

Story behind

  • On August 8, the Indian government put a ban on the export of broken rice and imposed a 20% duty-free on the export of various grades of rice and High cereal Inflation and uncertainties with respect to the domestic supplies
  •  Poornima Varma wrote “UP ahead: Rice insecurity” mentioning the: Unreliable rice export policy and precarity of production among other factors, will have a long-term impact

 Cultivation of Rice in India

  • Rice scientifically known as Oryza sativa is a food crop that originated from wild grass species.
  • A few of the oldest varieties of rice are  ‘Indica’ (originated in the Eastern Himalayan foothills) and ‘Japonica’ (originated in Southern China).
  • India is one of the largest rice producers as well as  the leading exporter of Basmati
  • There are many different types of rice cultivated in India such as Jasmine, Ambemohar have GI tagged to Maharashtra, Seeraga Samba, etc. The most recent addition to GI-tagged rice varieties of India is the Manipur black rice, called ‘Chakhao’ .
  • The largest rice-producing state in India is West Bengal. Other states  Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, and Tamil Nadu are also significant rice producers.
  • In India, specifically in Northern states, rice is mainly grown as a Kharif crop. However, it is cultivated as a Rabi crop in many states like West Bengal, Assam, Tamil Nadu, Odisha, and Andhra Pradesh.

The geographical condition  required for rice cultivation :

  •  It requires a humid and warm climate, with the required temperature between 20°C and 35°C.
  • It required well-distributed rainfall of around 100 cm or irrigation facilities  
  • Rice needs fertile alluvial soil. The soil found near the delta and valley soil is most suitable for rice cultivation. The soil with higher clay content has a better retention capacity so it is the most preferred type of soil for rice cultivation

3 types of rice are found in India, due to the climatic variation :

  • Winter/ Agahani/ Aman – cultivated in July-August and harvested in October-December. 86% of the total rice cultivation comes under this variety.
  • Autumnal/ Kuari/Aus – cultivated in May-June and harvested in September – October.
  • Summer/Boro – It is cultivated in November – December and harvested in March-April. It is grown on 1% of the total rice area.
rice insecurity

Pic: Types of Rice according to Geographical Area

 Importance of India’s rice export

  • India is the largest rice exporter in the world, accounting for 40% of the total global rice exports.
  • In 2021, it shipped over 21 mt of rice– way ahead of Thailand (7.2 mt), Vietnam (6.6 mt), and Pakistan (4.8 mt).
  • The recent restrain is supposed to affect around 50% of the rice export of India in terms of quantity and over 33 % of the exports in terms of value.
  • Considering India’s exports of rice to over 150 countries, the recent curbs are expected to increase food prices around the world- already worsening the condition due to the Russia-Ukraine situation, heat waves, and drought.
  • China is purportedly the largest buyer of Indian broken rice– used to make animal feed, noodles, and wine. Therefore the broken rice export ban could possibly trigger the food crisis in China.

Virtual Water Trade

  •  The concept was introduced by Tony Allan in 1993. Virtual water trade exactly means what the name implies – the import and export of ‘hidden’ water present in various products, such as textiles, machinery, livestock, and crops. All these inevitably require water for their production.
  • Virtual water trade is now a globally relevant topic, especially when nations are struggling with the consequences of climate change. China, historically, has been a net importer of virtual water. On the other hand, India’s exports are highly water-intensive due to its large variety of agricultural exports. As a result, it puts water sustainability at significant risk. 

Virtual Water Trade and India:


  •   India is a net virtual water exporter, because of the export of agricultural commodities.
  •   India exported 26 billion liters of VW every year between 2006-2016


  •  Punjab and Haryana are water stressed.
  •  Still, water-intensive crops like rice are grown there.
  •  These crops are sent to North-East India.
  •  But, NE states have better agro-climatic conditions to grow rice.

 What benefits of framing a virtual water trade policy?

  1. a) Awareness about water footprint will increase.
  2. b) India can save precious fresh water for drinking purposes.
  3. c) Reduce pressure on scarce water resources in water-stressed areas.
  4. d) Reduce the need for river interlinking (expensive financially and environmentally)


  1. a) Estimating the quantity of virtual water is difficult.
  2. b) Estimating movement of water-intensive products.
  3. c) Convincing farmers to change cropping patterns permanently.

The way forward

  • In place of a consequence knee-jerk reaction, the Agri-tech policies of India need to be more stable and predictable
  • The commodities which have short life like vegetables and fruits, India should make an efficient value chain and link these to processing facilities.,which will be made it convenient for people to switch to processed forms of food in case of high prices of vegetables.
  • The Indian food industry is way too behind to curve compared to many Southeast Asian nations, hence India must have to take food processing industry a priority
  • India must have to avoid sudden and abrupt bans if it wants to be a globally responsible player.


  • The recent decision to put a ban on rice export is understandable given the real danger of a domestic foodgrain shortage in the near future.
  • Nevertheless, it is more rational to stick to raising tariffs, in place of putting bans. The sustainable issues plaguing agricultural policymaking need to be addressed to avoid similar situations in the future. 
  • The Indian Express

Also, Read 

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