(Bloomberg) -- Rice output in India may suffer this year as poor rains in key growing areas shrink plantings, raising concerns that the top exporter could curb shipments after restricting wheat and sugar sales to safeguard food security.
Total rice acreage in the South Asian nation, the world’s second-biggest grower, has fallen 12% so far this season, according to the farm ministry. The crop is faltering at a time when rampant food inflation is hurting economies across the world, and is set to affect billions of people that depend on the staple. India accounts for about 40% of global rice trade.
Traders are worried that the possibility of a decline in rice production may prompt the government to restrict exports. India prohibited wheat shipments in May saying that the food security of the nation was under threat, after a record-shattering heat wave damaged wheat yields in several states. India has also curbed sugar exports to safeguard its food supplies.
The farm ministry said late on Friday that the rice area had fallen to 30.98 million hectares (76.55 million acres) as of Aug. 12, from 35.36 million hectares a year earlier. The area allocated to sugarcane, however, has increased to 5.52 million hectares, from 5.45 million.
Although, monsoon rains in India have been 8% above average so far, they have been deficient in some major growing areas, such as the northern state of Uttar Pradesh. Sowing for the monsoon season normally begins in late May and peaks in July, while harvesting starts in late September.
More details on the planted area as of Aug. 12:
NOTE: Corn figures are also included in total coarse cereals; oilseeds total includes soybeans and peanuts
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