Basmati exports surged 45 per cent to touch a record 3.21 million tonnes in 2011-12 on robust demand from the traditional markets in West Asia. In the previous year, exports stood at 2.18 million tonnes (mt).

In value terms, exports were up 46 per cent at Rs 15,450 crore against Rs 10,578 crore in 2010-11. In dollar terms, the export growth was 29 per cent at $3.22 billion against $2.49 billion last year, said Mr A. K. Gupta, Advisor, Agriculture and Processed Foods Exports Development Authority (Apeda). The lower growth in dollar is due to a weak rupee.

In the current financial year, too, exporters hope to sustain the growth momentum on robust demand. “At present, exports are around 3,00,000 tonnes a month,” said Mr Anil Mittal, Chairman and Managing Director of KRBL, the country’s largest exporter, which owns the India Gate brand.

Growth factors

The Government’s recent moves to scrap the minimum export price (MEP), and resume direct shipments to Iran, the largest market; as also China’s decision to import Indian basmati would help accelerate the exports.

Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were the three large export markets during 2011-12, Mr Gupta said.

Non-basmati shipments

Non-basmati exports have also kept the same pace as the aromatic rice. Their shipments have exceeded 5 million tonnes so far, Mr Gupta said. The Government had opened up exports of non-basmati rice last September on bumper harvest. Latest estimates indicate that rice production will touch 104.32 mt against the target of 102 mt. African nations such as Nigeria and Ghana are the major destinations for the Indian non-basmati exports.

Total rice shipments, including both basmati and non-basmati, were 7.3 mt in 2011-12, making India the largest rice exporter, said Mr Vijay Setia, former President of All-India Rice Exporters Association.

Area may go up

The truant monsoon has slowed planting of non-basmati varieties in North India as the sowing period is almost over, said Mr Setia. He expected farmers to switch to basmati as the planting goes on till August 10. Also, better returns from basmati may aid the trend as prices have shot up by almost 60 per cent over last year, Mr Setia said.

Last year, basmati rice was planted on about 15.5 lakh hectares in Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.

(This article was published on July 18, 2012)
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