The Hindu Business Line

Feed­ing the Dragon: Prospects brighten for non-bas­mati rice ex­ports

Millers told to reg­is­ter for fa­cil­ity in­spec­tion by Chi­nese au­thor­i­ties

- VISH­WANATH KULKA­RNI

In a step towards fa­cil­i­tat­ing ex­ports of rice to China, the Union government has asked the millers to get reg­is­tered with the Di­rec­torate of Plant Pro­tec­tion, Quar­an­tine and Stor­age (DPPQ&S) un­der the Agri­cul­ture Min­istry, so that the reg­is­tered mills could be ap­proved by the Chi­nese au­thor­i­ties for ex­ports of the ce­real.

In­dia, the largest rice ex­porter, ships a mi­nus­cule quan­tity of the ce­real through other coun­tries to China, which im­ports as high as five mil­lion tonnes an­nu­ally mainly from Thai­land, Viet­nam and Pak­istan among other rice pro­duc­ers.

The In­dian ex­porters, find­ing it tough to crack the mar­kets in China, the largest im­porter of rice, have been seek­ing the government in­ter­ven­tion to fa­cil­i­tate ship­ments of the ce­real. The is­sue had fig­ured dur­ing the re­cent visit of Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi to China, sources said.

Ar­range­ment terms

The Agri­cul­ture Min­istry is in the process of sign­ing up a pro­to­col with the Gen­eral Ad­min­is­tra­tion of Cus­toms of the Peo­ple’s Re­pub­lic of China in re­spect of ex­port of the In­dian rice — both bas­mati and non-bas­mati — to China. The pro­to­col is to en­sure that the rice ex­ported from In­dia meets the phyto-san­i­tary con­cerns of China, the Agri­cul­ture and Pro­cessed Food Ex­ports De­vel­op­ment Au­thor­ity (Apeda) said in a note on its web­site.

“Sub­se­quent to the sign­ing of the pro­to­col, the rice pro­cess­ing unit will be reg­is­tered by the DPPQ&S, un­der the Agri­cul­ture Min­istry. The reg­is­tered mill will be in­spected by Chi­nese au­thor­i­ties for ap­proval for ex­port of rice from In­dia to China,” the no­ti­fi­ca­tion said ask­ing mills to con­vey their in­ter­est to the DPPQ&S.

Boost­ing vol­umes

Wel­com­ing the government’s move, BV Kr­ishna Rao, Pres­i­dent, Rice Ex­porters As­so­ci­a­tion, said it was a step in the right di­rec­tion and could re­sult in higher vol­umes. “We have the po­ten­tial to ship at least two mil­lion tonnes rice worth $1 bil­lion to the Chi­nese mar­ket,” Rao said.

In­dia has emerged as the largest ex­porter of rice since 2011 on ris­ing do­mes­tic sup­plies through im­proved pro­duc­tiv­ity. As per the third ad­vance es­ti­mates, rice pro­duc­tion dur­ing 201718 is seen scal­ing a new high of 111.52 mil­lion tonnes (mt) against pre­vi­ous year’s 109.70 mt. Average ship­ments of non-bas­mati rice have hov­ered be­tween 6 and 8 mt and the premium bas­mati rice around 4 mt in re­cent years.

Though In­dian rice is ag­gres­sively priced, the Chi­nese have pre­ferred to buy the ce­real from Pak­istan, be­cause of the po­lit­i­cal con­sid­er­a­tions be­tween the neigh­bour­ing na­tions. The Modi government’s move to fa­cil­i­tate ship­ments should open up new mar­kets, while boost­ing the per unit re­al­i­sa­tion for the In­dian rice ex­ports.

Other mar­kets

Rao said the Cen­tre should also fa­cil­i­tate ex­ports of the non-bas­mati rice to coun­tries such as Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philip­pines, where the pri­vate play­ers are find­ing it dif­fi­cult to crack these mar­kets.

Bulk of In­dia’s non-bas­mati rice ship­ments are aimed at the African na­tions. In the fi­nan­cial year ended March 2018, In­dia’s rice ship­ments stood at a record 12.64 mt val­ued at ₹49,768 crore. Of this, the non-bas­mati vol­umes touched a record 8.63 mt val­ued at ₹22,927 crore, mainly on higher off­take by Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

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