The head of the National Committee for Food Supply in the Federation of Saudi Chambers said Indian rice producers have conveyed a message of reassurance that Basmati rice - the most sought-after variety in the region – would not be affected by drought and lack of rainfall, currently affecting India and threatening its agricultural crop season.
Abdullah Balsharaf told Asharq Al-Awsat that Basmati rice farms are located in areas that have seen normal rain levels, pointing to an abundance of stocks in the Saudi market.
Consumers in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states have expressed fear over the possibility of a decrease in rice stocks in the region due to weak production levels in India, which could lead to a rise in prices.
But Balsharaf stressed that the areas where the Basmati rice is grown have not seen drought, ruling out any significant impact on the stock.
He revealed that there were 800,000 metric tons of rice stock in the Saudi market, according to figures released by the relevant authorities.
Moreover, he explained that producers in India were expected to start the season at low prices due to the lack of high demand from competing countries, such as Iran and Iraq, and Europe.
According to a recent report by the World Bank, Saudi Arabia ranked fifth among the largest importers of rice globally, as the average consumption per capita increased by 30 percent from 33 to 43 kilograms.
It imported about 1.5 million tons of rice in 2021, compared to 1.6 million tons in 2020, bringing the average per capita consumption to about 43 kilograms.
Saudi Arabia’s food security authorities recently began implementing the government support approved by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz to deal with the effects of the global price hike, allocating about SR9.5 billion (USD2.5 billion) to support strategic stocks of wheat and barley.