Customs officials in southwest China have confiscated 29,000 tonnes of smuggled rice which has a staggering street value of $28 million. Black market rice is a burgeoning industry in China due to government policies which allow farmers to sell their rice at pre-fixed rates if market prices fall. Therefore it is a lucrative practice to purchase rice from the adjoining countries especially when the international prices are down and smuggle it inside China to sell at pre-fixed prices. But it is unlikely that the policy will be rolled back any time soon due to political sensitivity for rural communities.
Authorities have not disclosed where the seized rice originated from, but customs authorities believed the lion’s share has been smuggled from Vietnam and the Philippines and they have seized more than 218,500 tonnes so far this year. China is the largest importer of rice in the world and is the eleventh largest rice exporter, behind Australia who comes in at tenth. China is also the second-largest rice producer, but is unable to produce enough to meet domestic demand. In August and October this year, custom police in central China seized 28,700 tonnes of smuggled rice worth close to $33 million and detained 18 people. In November, southwest Chinese customs authorities seized 32,500 tonnes of rice worth $26 million and detained 19 people.