India to retain top rice exporter tag in 2013-14

Written by Sandip Das | New Delhi | Updated: Jan 21 2014, 09:03am hrs
India may remain the world's top rice exporter in 2013-14, thanks to a sharp rise in demand for Basmati rice from the US, Europe and West Asian countries and for non-Basmati rice from Africa and other Asian nations. India was the largest rice exporter last year as well.

According to commerce ministry data (April-November 2013), India has exported close to 7 million tonne (mt) of rice and is expected to ship more than 10.5 mt by the end of the current fiscal.

More than 2.3 mt of the aromatic and long-grained Basmati rice and 4.6 mt of non-Basmati rice was exported during the first eight months of the current fiscal.

"Demand for rice has been rising from all across the globe and we expect to reach a record level of exports by the end of the current fiscal, a commerce ministry official told FE.

The exporters are targeting to achieve more than 10.5 mt of rice exports in 2013-14 while in the previous fiscal, the country shipped 10 mt of the key foodgrain.

Thailand and Vietnam are the other leading rice exporters and ship around 7 mt of rice annually.

Rice exports have been looking northwards ever since India lifted the ban

on non-Basmati rice shipments after four years in September 2011.

The commerce ministry data also indicate that last fiscal, rice exports fetched more than R33,800 crore while in April-November 2013, India earned more than R29,000 crore.

In 2012-13, the country earned more than R19,400 crore from Basmati rice exports while this year, Basmati export earnings have already crossed R17,530 crore.

We will see a sharp rise in Basmati rice exports in the December-March period as demand has been rising sharply, a leading rice exporter said.

Apart from Iran, other key destinations for Indian Basmati are Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait and Iraq. Non-Basmati rice is exported to mostly African countries, including Nigeria and Senegal, besides other Asian countries.

The last seven years have been watershed years as far as India's Basmati rice exports go. From a modest R2,792 crore in 2006-07, exports have increased manifold to cross the R21,000-crore mark during the current fiscal.

Meanwhile, exporters said the new Pusa 1509 rice variety will definitely replace large areas under Pusa 1121, which has more than 70% share in India's Basmati rice exports market. The variety was sown in Punjab for the first time in the last kharif season.

During the trial phase, yield-wise, the '1509' variety has given around 6.5 tonne per hectare against around 4.5 and 2.5 tonne reported for the widely grown 1121 and traditional Basmati varieties, respectively.