Basmati exports down just 4%

Written by Commodities Bureau | New Delhi, Sep 26 | Updated: Sep 27 2008, 07:03am hrs
The government's move to curb rice exports by imposing a blanket ban on non-basmati rice exports and checks on basmati (aromatic) exports seems to have made a limited impact in controlling overseas sales mainly of high value basmati rice as exports have fallen by just over 4% during April 16 and September 2008 in comparison to the same period last year.

However, the ban on export of non-basmati rice has pulled down its sales by a whopping 78.5% to 0.59 million tonne between April 16 and September 2008.

According to an official statement, India exported around 0.47 million tonne of basmati rice between April 16 and September 2008, down from 0.49 million tonne during the same period last year. In April, the Centre not only imposed a blanket ban on exports of all non-basmati rice, but also curbed overseas sales of basmati rice in a bid to increase local availability and check price rise. It allowed exports of only those varieties of basmati, which were priced at more than $1,200 per tonne in the international markets to prevent shipment of any low-priced grade out of the country. It also levied an export tax of Rs 8,000 per tonne on basmati. Although, basmati exports have not shown much of a decline despite government curbs, exports of non-basmati rice dropped by a whopping 78.5% in the last five months.

The official data showed that India exported only 0.59 million tonne of basmati rice during the April-September period, down from 2.75 million tonne last year. Recently, the government allowed export of only PUSA-1121 varieties of non-basmati rice subject to certain restrictions. Sources said that with rice production expected to increase to 83.25 million tonne during the ongoing kharif sowing against an earlier estimate of 82.81 million tonne recorded last year, there was a possibility that government might ease control on exports sooner than later, but a final decision would depend upon the state of inflation in the coming months.

Separately, the government's rice procurement during the ongoing crop season that ends in October was around 28 million tonne as against the overall procurement of 25.07 million tonne, an increase of 11.14% over the previous year.