The Asia Foundation has engaged Bureau of Research on Industry and Economic Fundamentals (BRIEF) Pvt. Ltd. to conduct An Analysis of the Political Economy of Rice Trade between Bangladesh, India, and Nepal. The study combines four levels of analysis: the source, the border, the point of consumption, and the institutions of influence. An analysis of the source would include understanding the effects of subsidies (such as those on water and electricity), support prices, technology, investment, wholesalers, and transport. An analysis of the border would examine the politics of tariff and non-tariff barriers. Understanding the point of consumption would involve an examination of the pricing of imports, local distortionary practices, and protectionist impulses. Finally, an analysis of the institutions of influence would study the role of various arms of the state, domestic markets, and international markets.
Agricultural trade in South Asia has allowed countries to keep their food prices low, expanded access to different sources of nutrition and helped to improve the productivity of the sector in the last two centuries. Food grains, such as rice, have invoked emotive political responses in all trade agreements throughout history. This study feeds into The Asia Foundation’s larger endeavour to devise effective policies on farm incomes, nutrition, agricultural water use and challenges of climate change adaptation across the region.