Vietnam has started buying the grain from India for the first time in decades after local prices jumped to their highest in nine years amid limited domestic supplies

After China, Vietnam, the world’s third biggest exporter of rice, has had to look towards India for the first time for the supply of the grain after its prices jumped to their highest in nine years in the Southeast Asian country.

The purchases highlight tightening supplies in Asia, which could lift rice prices in 2021 and even force traditional buyers of rice from Thailand and Vietnam to switch to India – the world's biggest exporter of the grain said a Reuters report carried by News 18.

The report further noted that the Indian traders have been contracted to export 70,000 tonnes of 100 percent broken rice for January and February shipments at around $310 per tonne on a free-on-board (FOB) basis.

"For the first time we are exporting to Vietnam," president of the Rice Exporters Association B.V. Krishna Rao was quoted as saying. "Indian prices are very attractive. The huge price difference is making exports possible,” he added.

It is believed that the global pandemic has also prompted Vietnam and other countries to stockpile rice.

Vietnam announced last year it would stockpile 270,000 tonnes of rice to ensure food availability amid coronavirus-driven supply chain disruptions worldwide.

Industry experts believe that Vietnam could make more rice purchases in the near future.

In December, the world's biggest rice importer China started buying Indian rice for the first time in at least three decades due to tightening supplies from Thailand, Myanmar and Vietnam and an offer of sharply discounted prices.

In 2020, India exported a record 14 million tonnes of rice, provisional data from the trade ministry showed.