Despite a ban on rice exports, India continues to feed the world, especially its strategic neighbours such as Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam and Iran, as well as the wider Asean region. According to government data analyzed by Mint, rice export to South Asian countries alone was $567 million in the first eight months of the current 2023-24 fiscal, as compared to $1.24 billion in the corresponding period last year. In the case of Asean countries, rice export was at $341 million in April-November 2023 as compared to $541 million in the same period of 2022. The South Asian countries named above are not part of Asean.The figures show that rice export is taking place to these countries under bilateral arrangements in spite of the ban, although prices may not be comparable. The exports are taking place at the government-to-government level and those are being facilitated by National Cooperative Exports Ltd, a government export body which was set up under the Multi-State Cooperative Societies (MSCS) Act, 2002 to export agricultural produce and allied items.
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