Price wars between India and Pakistan on export prices for rice will spare Kenyans from the high cost of the commodity at a time when key source markets are imposing restrictions on shipment.

India and Pakistan are key source markets that Kenya relies on for imports of rice to bridge the annual deficit that the country grapples with every year.

India had set a minimum floor price for basmati to deter exporters from shipping out rice that is not meant for import, however, the Asian nation has been forced to review it to remain competitive in the export market.

India has been forced to lower the price of its basmati from a high of $1,200 for a tonne to $850 to counter Pakistan which has set a price of $1,050 in battle for the export market.

The Economic Times of India reports that Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal held a virtual meeting with basmati exporters where industry players urged the Indian government to lower the cost of grain to $850 a tonne.

The floor price on India basmati and the restriction of imports had made the cost of shipping rice expensive for Kenya. India had at some point restricted exports to protect its local market against the rising cost of the commodity.

“Price distortion has a huge impact on imports because we import most of our rice from there,” said Bimal Shah, chief executive officer of Capwel Industries.

Kenya mainly relies on huge imports to bridge the local deficit, bringing in up to 250,000 tonnes annually to meet the demand.

Mwea irrigation scheme accounts for 80 per cent of Kenya’s rice production playing a major role in supply of the produce in the country.

The National Irrigation Authority this year commissioned the Sh8.2 billion Thiba Dam in Kirinyaga County to expand the size of land under the cover of rice at the Mwea Irrigation Scheme.

The dam will put an additional 10,000 acres under rice on top of the current 25,000 acres, coming as a major boost for local production at the Mwea Irrigation Scheme.

This project will increase rice production by 86,000 tonnes and help to cut the imports from Asian countries.