Brazil blocks exports of government-owned stocks of rice


Brazil’s Agriculture Ministry said it has temporarily banned exports of government-owned stocks of rice to guarantee domestic supply amid rising world prices, but other shipments will still be allowed.

The Agriculture Ministry had issued a statement Wednesday suggesting that all rice exports were being halted, but a ministry spokeswoman said Thursday the statement was poorly worded.

Rice farmers have not been asked to stop exporting and the government will “allow the market to follow its course as long as there is no risk of shortages,” the spokeswoman said. She declined to be quoted by name in line with department policy.

The ministry said the decision to ban exports of government rice stocks was sparked by a purchase request from some African nations.

“We told them that we could not meet their request because we have to make sure that Brazil will not suffer shortages,” the spokeswoman said. She did not know which countries had hoped to buy rice.

The ministry also said that on May 5 the government will auction 55,000 tons of rice from its stocks to keep domestic prices from rising from current levels, about $17 to $18 for a 110-lb. (50 kilogramme) bag.

The ministry said the 2007-2008 rice harvest totaled 12 million tonnes, and government rice stocks currently stand at 1.6 million tonnes. (AP)