India set to export record quantity of basmati rice

By Rajeev Ranjan Roy, IANS,

New Delhi : India looks set to export a record quantity of basmati rice in the current fiscal.

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Last month, the official agency monitoring the export of basmati rice issued 658 registration-cum- allocation certificates (RCAC) to traders, enabling them to export 165,148 tonnes of basmati rice worth $252 million (Rs.10.08 billion).

In July last year, by contrast, the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) had issued only 412 RCACs for exporting 84,926 tonnes of basmati rice.

RCAC is a mandatory official approval traders have to acquire for exporting basmati rice.

“There is an ever increasing demand for Indian basmati rice, known for superior quality,” Asit Tripathy, chairman and managing director of APEDA, told IANS.

“In terms of quality, Indian basmati is matchless. Our quality monitoring and delivery mechanism are good, giving us an edge in the world market,” he said.

Some of the major importers of Indian basmati are Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the UAE, Britain, the US, Yemen, Canada, Iran, Germany, Oman, South Africa, France, Syria, Belgium, Australia and Germany.

APEDA data shows Saudi Arabia imported 499,584 tonnes, Kuwait 109,067 tonnes and the UAE 104,998 tonnes of Indian basmati in 2006-07.

Though in smaller quantities, Indian basmati has also found takers in Uganda, Angola, Congo, Botswana, Fiji, Ghana, Cameroon, Zambia, Romania, Chile and Suriname.

India has around 53 percent share in the global basmati market, and efforts such as buyer-seller meets, and increasing number of trade delegations abroad are being taken to expand the consumer base.

Tripathy said between April and July this year, 3,242 RCACs for the export of 904,317 tonnes of basmati were issued, against 1,666 RCACs for 412,103 tonnes in the last corresponding period.

It seems the government’s March 31 decision to increase minimum export price (MEP) for basmati to $1,200 per tonne has not impacted global demand for the commodity.

“Almost 90 percent RACs are honoured. As of now, we do not see any reason for a slowdown in the export of basmati rice,” said Navneesh Sharma, deputy general manager, APEDA.

At present, basmati is exported to over 130 countries, and the government hopes to tap the huge markets of China and Mexico in a couple of years.

“Efforts are on to enter the market of China and Mexico as well,” said Tripathy.

As a trial, India had exported 54 tonnes of basmati to China in 2006-07.

APEDA’s assessment says India’s export of basmati is increasing 20-30 percent every year. Exports jumped from 848,919 tonnes to 1.05 million tonnes in 2006-07.

India had exported 597,793 tonnes in 1998-99.

The government has set a production target of 129 million tonnes of basmati and non-basmati rice by 2011-12 on a growth rate of 3.7 percent along with other food grains.