CÔTE D’IVOIRE – The Ivorian government imported a record volume of rice from China last month after India implemented restrictions on its shipments of grain according to Chinese customs data.

According to the data, the West African nation imported 45,000 tons of rice from the Asian nation in August, the highest monthly volume since September 2021 and the first shipment to the West African country in nine months.

The resumption of rice purchases from China has been attributed to India’s restrictions on exports from late July, that the top shipper ramped up in an effort to maintain domestic prices at comfortable levels.

Faced with this situation, the Ivorian authorities could be in the process of diversifying their sources of supply, especially in non-basmati rice.

Moreover, some analysts believe that beyond China, Vietnam, currently the second-largest exporter of rice to the Ivory Coast, could also benefit from Indian restrictions.

The country was the 4th buyer of Indian non-basmati white rice in 2022 behind Bangladesh, Benin, and Guinea according to data from the Indian Ministry of Commerce.

Rice is a staple food for more than 3 billion people around the world. In Côte d’Ivoire, rice is the second most imported product after fish accounting for 60% of the demand which is around 2.4 million tonnes per year.

Recently, the West African country announced a precautionary suspension of the export of local rice and sugar, for the period from September 18 to December 31, 2023, to protect the purchasing power of the population.

According to authorities, the decision taken by the main suppliers, notably India, which banned the export of certain qualities of rice led to the price of rice on the international market experiencing disruptions.

However, the country plans to increase its local production of milled rice by 27% through a raft of measures to bring stocks to 1.4 million tonnes in 2023.

In August, the construction of a rice processing plant in Odienné was launched as the country bets on improving the supply of the commodity on the local market.

Earlier, Kobenan Kouassi, the Minister of Agriculture said that the effort is attainable following the growth of the processing capacity of the local industry supported by the National Strategy for the Development of Rice (SNDR) extending over the period 2020-2030.

Under the program, the government has invested in 30 processing units with a production capacity of 10,000 tonnes per hour, of which 18 are already in operation.

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