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Senegal Seeks Talks With India Over Rice Export Ban

FILE - Labourers unload rice bags from a supply truck at India's main rice port at Kakinada Anchorage in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh, India, September 2, 2021. Picture taken September 2, 2021.

Senegal plans to hold talks with India to secure a much-needed rice supply following India's ban on broken rice exports globally and tariffs on other types, the West African nation's president told business leaders late on Monday.

India and Pakistan are Senegal's two top sources of rice, a major food staple in the country. Senegal grows only about half the rice it consumes.

India, the world's biggest rice exporter, banned exports of broken rice and imposed a 20% duty on exports of various other types on Sept. 8 as it tries to boost local supplies and calm prices after below-average monsoon rainfall curtailed planting.

The ban could have a severe impact on countries particularly in the West and Central Africa region that depend on imports to make up for the shortfall in their local production.

"We must open negotiations with the Indian and Pakistani government on broken rice imports," Senegal's President Macky Sall told a meeting with business leaders to discuss measures to curb rampant food inflation.

"I want to remind everyone that Senegal is an exporter of phosphoric acid which allows India to make its fertilizer," Sall added, saying Senegal should get some exemption for that reason.

Although Senegal has increased its local rice production to more than 1.2 million tonnes annually from around 200,000 tonnes in 2007, it still needs to import over a million tonnes a year to meet local demand, which is more than 2 million tonnes, according to government data.

West Africa has faced its worst food crisis on record this year, with millions going hungry due to poor harvests and insecurity, while the war in Ukraine has made the region especially vulnerable to food price hikes and shortages.