Kenya Among Countries Exempted From India's Ban on Rice Import

A photo of rice wholesalers at Mwea,  Kirinyaga County.
A photo of rice wholesalers at Mwea, Kirinyaga County.
Kenya News Agency

India has lifted the ban on the export of rice to Kenya and four other African countries.

Since May 2022, the country has continuously been imposing sanctions on exports of its rice products. India cut off the exportation of non-basmati rice and slapped basmati rice with a 20 per cent export duty.

Even though the ban applies to non-government exports, India has been providing conditional export of rice through government-to-government deals in limited quantities.

The new arrangements will see Kenya receive the lion's share of a total of 100,000 Metric tonnes of rice, Egypt receives 60,000 MT, Madagascar 50,000 MT, Comoros receive 20,000 MT, and Comoros 10,000.

A rice farm in Mwea Irrigation Scheme.
A rice farm in Mwea Irrigation Scheme.

The permission was granted by India's National Cooperative Exports Limited on December 7, 2023, a few weeks after the same body lifted the ban on six other non-African countries.

India, in their clarification, stated that the reason for lifting the ban was to help Kenya and the five other countries deal with mitigations of food security

This comes barely three months after the country placed sanctions on the exportation of other products to several countries.

Kenya, for a while, has been staring at high prices after India cut a total importation of 250,000 MT of rice as it is the biggest supplier of the product to the country.

With the ban, the country was forced to turn to Pakistan and neighbouring country Tanzania as alternative to increase rice supply and meet demands. 

In its defense, India argued that it was out to curb the illegal packaging of white rice as basmati rice by unscrupulous traders out to circumvent the restrictions.

“The MEP will help authorities ensure that non-Basmati rice is not exported as Basmati rice,” India explained its rationale following the ban on August 27, 2023.

Rice ranks at position 12 in Kenya's food imports.

Photo collage of rice served on a plate
Photo collage of rice served on a plate.
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