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Wednesday, Feb 13, 2002

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Rice exports gain pace -- Indonesia to buy one million tonnes

M.R. Subramani

CHENNAI, Feb. 12

INDONESIA has begun to buy rice (non-basmati) from India, giving further boost to the already buoyant export of the foodgrain. Iran, too, has started purchasing in small quantities from the country.

"Indonesia is buying in a big way from India. It has expressed its willingness to buy one million tonnes," a senior official of a rice-exporting firm told Business Line.

Indonesia's official agency, Bulog, and private traders were making purchases, the official said.

According to an Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) official, Indonesia had floated a tender to buy 70,000 tonnes of rice. However, the movement of rice exports was more towards West Asia and Africa. "So far, over 40,000 tonnes have been registered for exports to Indonesia," the official said. Indonesia has been buying rice from Vietnam through a Government-to-Government deal. Last month, it closed the deal and said it was looking for rice from other origins.

Iran, which had come to the global rice market last month, was buying small cargoes, he said.

"We are able to sell more rice because our prices are very competitive. Indian rice is cheaper by $35 a tonne compared to Thailand and Vietnam," the exporting-firm official said.

On Tuesday, Indian 25 per cent broken rice was quoted at $131 a tonne f.o.b, while Thailand and Vietnam 25 per cent broken rice were quoted at $171 and $168. Pakistan 25 per cent broken ruled at $148.

Trading sources said Indonesia has been in the market for Indian rice due to its low prices.

Though Myanmar's rice prices rule around the same levels, currently, it does not have stocks.

At least 15 lakh tonnes have been exported from the country till January, while contracts for another 17-20 lakh tonnes have been finalised, according to trade sources. Rice exports have rebounded this fiscal after being around 6.8 lakh tonnes last fiscal. During 1995-96, 45.65 lakh tonnes were exported and during 1998-99, 43.65 lakh tonnes were shipped from the country on huge imports by Bangladesh.

Rice exports have picked up this fiscal mainly on the Government releasing non-basmati rice from FCI stocks at concessional rates of Rs 6,000 per tonne for par-boiled and Rs 5,750 per tonne for raw rice.

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