Appetite for aroma: Basmati exports to Iran set to rise 10%

Written by Sandip Das | New Delhi | Updated: May 25 2013, 06:26am hrs
Growing popularity boosts shipments despite delayed payment settlements

Indias Basmati rice exports to Iran, the biggest buyer of the aromatic rice, are set to rise by more than 10% during the current fiscal despite some delays in the payment settlement mechanism because of US sanctions against the Arab country.

Thanks to the popularity of the Pusa 1121 variety, India's Basmati shipments to Iran have crossed the 1-million tonne mark. It is noteworthy that delays on account of rupee payment, worked out through UCO bank to deal with the US sanctions, have not really affected exports. To be fair, payment delays by Iran have come down significantly.

With the growing popularity of India's Basmati rice, our exports are set to rise beyond 10% during the current fiscal, MP Jindal, president, All India Rice Exporters Association (AIREA) told FE.

With a more than 10% rise in exports to Iran, cumulative Basmati rice exports are likely to reach 3.4 million tonne (mt) during the current fiscal, up from 3 mt last fiscal.

Jindal said exporters of Basmati rice to Iran are blending the aromatic, long grained rice with only 20% non-Basmati rice as approved by Agricultural and Processed Food Products Exports Development Authority (APEDA), which operates under the commerce ministry.

This blending has been done by exporters in accordance with APEDA-approved processes to keep the price of Basmati rice in check, Vijay Arora of LT Foods, another key exporter to Iran said.

From exports of only 2 lakh tonne in 2008-09, shipments crossed the 1-million-tonne mark last fiscal. Iranian consumers have been favouring Indian Basmati over other varities, Jindal noted. Iran annually imports about 3 mt of rice from India. This includes non-Basmati rice too.

Apart from Iran, other key destinations for Basmati are Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait and Iraq.

As for non-Basmati rice, India had shipped 6.5 mt of the grain with an average price realisation of $350 per tonne during 2012-13. With more than 3 mt of basmati rice exports last fiscal (at average price realisation of more than $ 1,100 per tonne), a commerce ministry official said the country is set to realise close to R30,000 crore during the last fiscal from rice exports. In 2010-11, the realisation from rice exports was around R22,000 crore.

We are expected to get around R17,000 crore from Basmati rice exports in the last fiscal, a commerce ministry official said. In 2011-12, the country shipped Basmati rice worth R15,450 crore.

India emerged as the worlds largest exporter of rice during 2011-12 with close to 10 mt of exports. Thailand exported 6.9 mt, falling behind Vietnam, which sold 7.8 mt overseas.