Agri Business

Basmati exports to gain momentum as Iran lifts seasonal ban on rice imports

Vishwanath Kulkarni | | | Updated on: Nov 09, 2021

High freight rates, container availability remain a challenge, say an exporter


Basmati shipments to Iran, the largest buyer of the Indian aromatic rice, are set to pick up with reports of the West Asian nation lifting the seasonal ban on rice imports.

“Though there is no formal information yet, it is learnt that Iran has lifted the seasonal curbs on rice imports. We expect basmati shipments to gain pace in the coming months although the higher ocean freight rates and non-availability of containers remain a challenge,” said Vinod Kaul, Executive Director, All India Rice Exporters Association.

Iran has traditionally imposed an annual seasonal ban on rice imports during its domestic harvest season from July to mid-November to protect its growers.

Logistics woes

However, what could help the Indian exporters this year is the fact that Iran, perhaps, has had a lower than normal crop, Kaul said.

Also, payment issues that Indian exporters faced in the recent past have largely been resolved and the trade is now taking place in third party currency — the United Arab Emirates Dirham (AED), he said.

India’s basmati exports during April-August this year were impacted by the shortage of containers and sharp increase in freight rates, Kaul said.

The main issue is the availability of containers on time, Kaul said adding that the shortage still persists, while the demand is almost normal.


Exports fluctuate

As per APEDA figures, during April-August this year, basmati shipments in volume terms dropped 16 per cent to 1.7 million tonnes, from 2.03 million tonnes a year ago.

In value terms, the shipments were 20 per cent lower at $1.44 billion against $1.8 billion in the same period a year ago.

Commenting on the domestic output, Kaul said the production is good and the new crop has been coming into the market.

New export markets

Exports should gain momentum from now till March, traditionally the peak season for Indian basmati shipments, Kaul said.

In the current year, some Latin American countries have imported some fair quantities of Indian basmati.

“We can say some new opening have come this year from Latin America. However, that will still remain a limited market while West Asia, which accounts for 72-80 per cent of the total basmati shipments continues to be the mainstay,” he added.

India exported 4.63 million tonnes of basmati rice valued at $4.02 billion during 2020-21 against 4.45 million tonnes valued at $4.37 billion in the same period previous year.

Published on November 10, 2021

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