Govt sets up separate panel for rice exports under Apeda

India’s export of rice was $7.77 billion during FY19—basmati share was $4.72 billion and non-basmati was $3.05 billion.

During April-January of FY20, exports were down by nearly 18% (y-o-y) at $5.03 billion — basmati was $3.4 billion and non-basmati was $1.63 billion.

The Centre has set up a separate panel under agri-export promotion body Apeda to boost shipments of rice following a meeting held by the Prime Minister on May 2, in which creation of commodity-specific boards/councils was discussed. The non-basmati exporters were demanding for a separate board since Apeda’s main focus has been only for basmati rice.

The commerce ministry was of the view that since a number of items such as buffalo meat, processed products and floriculture are handled by Apeda, creation of additional boards will dilute its role. Among all items under the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (Apeda), rice and buffalo meat exports together have 60% share in terms of value.

“There are already tea, coffee, rubber and spices boards. If rice and buffalo meat are taken away from Apeda, it will have virtually no work. Constitution of separate board is not the solution to increase exports as a number of other factors are responsible,” said a senior official of Apeda. India is not considered by regular importing nations as a sustainable destination to buy agri products due to sudden changes in policy — restrictions on shipments in case of a price rise in any commodity in the domestic market.

India’s non-basmati rice exports have dropped 41% to about 4.5 million tonne in FY20, according to the Kakinada-based Rice Exporters’ Association. The association, in June last year, had sought constitution of a separate board for non-basmati rice like Tea Board. It drew attention of the commerce ministry to address issues that pertains to different ministries and state governments.

“Fixing of minimum support price (MSP) is a major challenge for the exporters as every year it has been rising irrespective of the international prices. Though, we support the government’s plan in doubling farmers’ income, which can be done through DBT also,” said BV Krishna Rao, president of the Rice Exporters Association, who is also a member of the Rice Export Promotion Forum, set up under the chairmanship of Apeda chairman. Rice exporters, officials of the Centre and states are members of the Forum.

India’s export of rice was $7.77 billion during FY19—basmati share was $4.72 billion and non-basmati was $3.05 billion. During April-January of FY20, exports were down by nearly 18% (y-o-y) at $5.03 billion — basmati was $3.4 billion and non-basmati was $1.63 billion.

Meanwhile, the Food Corporation of India has procured 3.7 million tonne of rabi rice against the target of 11.3 million tonne. This year’s total rice purchase- both kharif and rabi – has reached 44.6 million tonne as on May 11, which is more than the record 44.4 million tonne procured in 2018-19 during the entire season (October-September).

The wheat procurement also is no peak at about 26 MT as on May 11, against 30 MT in the year-ago period due to delayed start and enforcement of the social distancing norm at purchase centres. The FCI has bought 97% of the wheat arrived at its centres while it was 95% in the year-ago. The central agency has already relaxed quality norms after farmers demanded the grains with luster loss (less shining and reduced shelf life), should be bought as unseasonal rains had affected the wheat crop in many places.

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