India exports about 4 million tons of rice a year, making it the world's third-largest exporter. But because food prices have risen by 8.3 percent in the past year, it has also imposed restrictions on exports of rice. That is putting a considerable strain on world prices and supplies, experts say.
Pakistan exported 3.3 million tons of rice last year, making it the fifth-largest exporter just behind the United States. But exports this year are expected to fall by 15 percent to 2.8 million, mainly due to power shortages, according to Pakistani officials.
Since rice is not a staple food in Pakistan – wheat is – the government has not placed the same kind of restrictions as other Asia countries. With rice in tight supply, many countries are pinning their hopes on Pakistan's exports.
China is the world's largest producer and consumer of rice, with annual supplies large enough to feed its population. It exported 1.4 million tons of rice last year. But food prices jumped 21 percent in March alone, and consumer prices reached an 11-year high in February of 8.7 percent. To dampen price increases, China imposed strict export restrictions on rice, which is expected to result in a drop of 300,000 tons to the global market. This week it also imposed a six-month tariff on fertilizer exports, to help shore up domestic supply.