Rice price rises in India, Bangladesh assesses cyclone aftermath

People work in a rice processing mill in Munshiganj, Bangladesh on 4 January 2021
Reuters file photo

India's rice prices extended gains on Thursday, helped by a stronger rupee, while both the top exporter and neighboring Bangladesh assessed damage to port operations and crops in the aftermath of cyclone Yaas.

Hundreds of thousands of villagers along the low-lying coast of eastern India and Bangladesh were marooned by floodwaters on Thursday in the aftermath of a powerful cyclone that has killed at least five people, officials in both countries said.

Officials in Bangladesh said they feared standing crops could be damaged as large tracts of fertile land in the densely-populated country flooded with high tide salt-water.

"We are collecting reports from cyclone-affected districts. Fortunately, harvesting of the summer rice crop is almost complete. Still it could leave a trail of destruction," said Mizanur Rahman Khan, a senior official in the Bangladesh agriculture ministry.

Prices for India's five per cent broken parboiled variety rose between $382 and $388 per tonne from last week's $379-$385 range. The rupee hit a two-month peak.

"Demand is stable. Rice transportation and loading operations at a few ports were disrupted earlier this week due to the cyclone," said an exporter based at Kakinada in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh.

In Thailand, prices for five per cent broken rice rose to $457-$485 per tonne from $454-$475 a week ago driven by higher container freight charges, while overseas demand remained subdued.

However, some traders said an expected arrival of more supply could help ease prices.

Vietnamese five per cent broken rice stayed unchanged for the third week at $490-$495 a tonne.

"Supplies are low, while some exporters are hesitant to sign new contracts due to the problems of container scarcity, especially for shipments to Europe and the Middle East," a trader based in Ho Chi Minh City said.

Vietnam was, however, seeing an uptick in demand especially from China and the Philippines, which recently cut its import tariff on rice, a trader said.