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UPDATE 1-India restricted rice exports after rise in shipments lifts local prices

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By Mayank Bhardwaj and Rajendra Jadhav

NEW DELHI/MUMBAI, Sept 9 (Reuters) - India restricted rice exports after shipments jumped sharply in the past few months and amid concerns over the new season crop because of below-average rainfall in four key producing states, a top government official said on Friday.

India banned exports of broken rice and imposed a 20% duty on exports of various grades of rice on Thursday as the world's biggest exporter of the grain tries to augment supplies and calm local prices after below-average monsoon rainfall curtailed planting.

Broken rice prices jumped 38% so far in 2022 as exports during April-August rose to 2.13 million tonnes from 1.58 million tonnes a year ago, Sudhanshu Pandey, the most senior civil servant at the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, told reporters.

"There was exponential increase in broken rice exports in the past four years," Pandey said.

Broken rice wasn't available for poultry feed or for ethanol production as the share of broken rice in total exports jumped to 23% in 2022 from just 1.3% in 2019, he said.

A rally in corn prices prompted feed makers, especially in China, to substitute corn with broken rice in the past few months. A few African countries import broken rice from India for human consumption.

Below-average rainfall in key rice-producing states such as West Bengal, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh has raised concerns over India's rice production.

The country's rice production could fall by as much as 12 million tonnes in the worst-case scenario, said Pandey, adding "Yields could be lower in some areas due to lower rains but in terms of overall availability and supplies, we do not have any problem at all."

India's rice exports in the first eight months of 2022 rose to 15.25 million tonnes from 14.5 million tonnes a year ago. (Reporting by Mayank Bhardwaj and Rajendra Jadhav; Editing by Kim Coghill, Elaine Hardcastle)

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