Rice shortage hits Indian stores in US too

April 25th, 2008 - 5:20 pm ICT by admin  

New York, April 25 (IANS) After big retail chains like WalMart, some Indian grocery stores too have begun rationing the sale of rice following shortages caused by export bars by countries including India. A spokesperson for Patel Brothers in Jackson Heights, New York, confirmed that customers now cannot buy more than two bags of rice.

“All the rice we stock comes from India,” the spokesperson told IANS. “But with India banning export, we will have problem replenishing our stock.”

In the process, prices have doubled over the past few months, he added.

Narinder Singh, who owns Hicksville Subzi Mandi, said there were queues of people at his grocery store in Long Island, New York, buying 3-4 bags of rice and wheat each.

“We have not yet put a limit on how much each one can buy, but you never know what will happen tomorrow,” Singh said.

On Wednesday, two of America’s largest warehouse chains imposed limits on purchase of rice because of panic buying triggered by tightening supplies and rising prices.

Wal-Mart’s cash and carry division, Sam’s Club, announced a cap of four bags of rice per person to prevent supplies from running short. Rival Costco did the same in parts of California.

India’s restriction on export of all rice, except basmati, is being blamed in part for the rice stampede. India is the second largest producer of rice and wheat in the world.

Other major rice producing countries including China, Vietnam and Egypt have also imposed limits on exports to keep domestic prices down.

Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer Thursday sought to calm the frayed nerves of consumers, saying there was no shortage of rice in the US.

He also said the surge in rice prices to record heights at the Chicago Board of Trade, the world’s largest grain exchange, could be attributed in part to speculation about future rice shortages.

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