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25 April, 2008

Rice shortage hits Indians in America

Bay Area Indian grocery store owners are cracking down on rice hoarding as food prices go up around the world, according to New America Media editors Viji Sundaram and Ketaki Gokhal.

When Arif Casha of Pasha’s Market in Cupertino, Calif., returned from a short vacation a few days ago, he was shocked to see all of the rice bags gone from his store shelves.

“I was gone for just a week and the whole place was cleaned out,” said Casha, one of several South Asian American grocery store owners who are reeling from the ban the Indian government enacted earlier this month on the export of all varieties of rice except basmati. “I had four different varieties of rice. I thought we had been robbed.”

From New York to California, rice bags are flying off the shelves of grocery stores as expatriates from India, China and other Asian countries are going into the same kind of panic that gripped Indian Americans in the summer of 2006, when India banned the export of lentils to offset a domestic shortage. Indian American grocery store owners say the popular Sona Masoori brand of rice is being snapped up like never before. MORE

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