The Hindu Business Line
Feeding the Dragon: Prospects brighten for non-basmati rice exports
Millers told to register for facility inspection by Chinese authorities
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.
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.
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.
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.