Two Indian companies — Sukhbir Agro Energy and Pattabhi Agro Foods — have bagged export orders of 600 tonnes of non-basmati rice from China.
Two Indian companies — Sukhbir Agro Energy and Pattabhi Agro Foods — have bagged export orders of 600 tonnes of non-basmati rice from China, paving the way for the first shipment of the cereal to the neighbouring country after it agreed last month to import it from India. The exports will take place soon after the rice processing plants of these two companies are approved by China.
Amid the stand-off with the US on tariffs, China appears to be serious on importing rice from India, exporters said. In recent weeks, Beijing allowed a clutch of rice processors in India, including Chaman Lal Setia and Adani Wilmar, to export the cereal to the world’s second largest economy after inspecting their facilities, while some companies, including Sukhbir Agro Energy and Pattabhi Agro Foods, were told to improve their storage conditions.
The Centre is keen that rice exports to China materialise, as it will help India tap a hitherto untapped major market where it is one of the staple foods.
India’s total rice exports increased to 12.7 million tonnes last fiscal (valued at Rs 49,838 crore), from 10.8 million tonnes a year earlier, which allowed the country to retain the top slot in global trade of the commodity.
Apeda, the agri-export promoting agency of the government, is planning to take a business delegation of Indian rice exporters to China around November to explore trade opportunities, sources said.
According to sources, while Sukhbir Agro Energy, which has rice processing facility in Shahjahanpur, Uttar Pradesh, has got an order for supply of 500 tonnes of rice, Kakinada, Andhra Pradesh-based Pattabhi Agro Foods will export 100 tonnes.
Protik Guha of Sukhbir Agro Energy said discussions were still on with the buyers on the time of shipment, varieties of rice and other issues. Pattabhi Agro’s CEO BV Krishna Rao said: “The consignment will be sent after China approves the company’s processing plant for export. It is an in-principle order.”
Within a week after visiting 14 rice processing plants in different states during July 9-17, China’s General Administration of Customs approved five more rice processors in India, including Chaman Lal Setia and Adani Wilmar, to export rice to the world’s second largest economy. In 2016, China had agreed to import from 14 Indian rice exporters, all of whom were based in the northern region and mainly deal with basmati. However, it never allowed actual import citing quarantine issue claiming presence of a pest called ‘khapra’ (cabinet) beetle.
After prolonged discussion, an MoU was signed between China’s General Administration of Customs and India’s Department of Agriculture on phytosanitary requirements for exporting rice from India to China during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the neighbouring country in June this year.
China, the world’s largest producer and importer of rice, buys over 5 million tonnes of the cereal per annum mainly from Vietnam, Thailand and Pakistan. There is a potential of exporting 1 million tonnes of rice, including basmati variety, to China in a few years if there is free trade allowed, exporters said.
By Prabhudatta Mishra