India exported 2.99 million tonnes of non-basmati rice in the first four months of this financial year, up from 1.78 million tonnes a year ago, earning foreign exchange equivalent to Rs 8,903 crore as compared to Rs 4,816 crore in the corresponding period of last fiscal.
However, traders were beset by non- availability of containers at the ports due to lower imports of products from China and the rising prices of containers.
BV Krishna, president of the Rice Exporters Association, said exports of non-basmati rice are expected to remain robust this fiscal. “We are expecting to achieve 7 million tonnes of non-basmati rice exports in FY21,” he said.
A drought in Thailand and resilient currency made rice shipments from the country more expensive, putting India in an advantageous position. The Thai Rice Exporters Association recently cut its export target for 2020 by 13% to 6.5 million tonnes, from an earlier forecast of 7.5 million tonnes.
“Indian rice is cheaper than Thai rice by $100 per tonne. The demand for non-basmati rice is very strong this year, with Africa being the largest buyer,” said Vinod Kaul, executive director, All India Rice Exporters Association.
India exports non-basmati rice to 170 countries in the world. Exporters said demand for non-basmati would go up further in the September-October period.
Rao said container cost has increased almost 50% from August 1 to $1,800 from $1,200, much to the dismay of exporters. “Rising corona cases have also impacted availability of labourers at the port for loading and unloading products,” said Rao, who operates through Kakinada port, the largest non-basmati handling port in the country.
Suraj Agarwal, CEO of Kolkata-based Tirupati Agri Trade, said non-basmati rice exports would have gone up further if Bangladesh had opened its doors to Indian rice.
“Bangladesh is supposed to bring down import duty on rice from 55% to 18% so that the country can import, since prices of its own rice has risen quite significantly. But the decision is yet to be taken,” said Agarwal. “Last week too we had a discussion on this with officials and traders from Bangladesh on rice exports. We are hoping to hear from the neighbouring nation soon.”
Retail prices of rice in Bangladesh have gone up 31%, said traders. The latest spell of flood has inundated nearly 100,000 hectares of Aman crop in the neighbouring nation, they said.