Agri Business

Bengal rice prices gain steam on Bangladesh demand

Shobha Roy Kolkata | Updated on August 18, 2021

Prices of non-basmati variants already up as the neighbouring country has slashed import duty

Rice prices in West Bengal, which went on a downward spiral due to free distribution of foodgrain by the government, is firming up on the back of a surge in demand from Bangladesh.

One of the main reasons is that during April-May this fiscal Bangladesh imported 46 per cent of non-Basmati rice that it purchased for the whole of last fiscal from India. During April-May this year, Bangladesh bought 4.28 lakh tonnes of rice from India at a value of ₹1,163.20 crore. During the last fiscal, Dhaka imported 9.11 lakh tonnes of non-basmati rice worth ₹2,552.54 crore compared with a meagre 13,083 tonnes valued at ₹85.72 crore during 2019-20. In December last year, Bangladesh reduced duty and other government charges on import of non-basmati rice to 25 per cent from 62.5 per cent.

Price of the common variety non-basmati rice in the State was down by around eight per cent at ₹2,200-2,250 a quintal in July against ₹2,400-2,500 in the corresponding period last year.

Prices up in Bengal

Duty reduction, around three-to-four days back, has already pushed up rice prices in the State.

Price of the common variety non-basmati rice has inched up by around ₹200 a quintal, to ₹2,400 compared with ₹2,200 about a month ago.

The better quality miniket parboiled rice (usually shipped to Bangladesh) has increased by ₹300 per quintal to ₹2,900 over the last week.

“West Bengal rice industry is dominated by non-basmati parboiled rice, and transportation cost is least from West Bengal to Bangladesh compared to any other State in India. So, the majority of export of non-basmati rice in Bangladesh happens from West Bengal. Considering this, prices of non-basmati variants are bound to increase further in the State for retail consumers as well,” said Suraj Agarwal, CEO, Tirupati Agri Trade.

The Bangladesh government recently floated a tender to buy 50,000 tonnes of non-basmati rice from India. A major chunk of the rice exported to the neighbouring country usually goes from West Bengal and the majority of the export happens between September and February.

Breather for growers

Production of kharif paddy, the traditional crop of West Bengal, is expected to be higher this year backed by favourable weather conditions and adequate rains.

The State produces close to 10.5-11 million tonnes of paddy during the kharif season accounting for nearly 70 per cent of the total production which is estimated to be close to 15-16 million tonnes a year and nearly 14 per cent of the country’s total production.

As per official estimates, West Bengal has 5.8 million hectares under rice cultivation. Though official estimates are not available, the State is likely to register a higher crop this year. Harvesting of paddy is expected to commence by mid-October.

Although the price of paddy has been steady at last year’s ₹1,500-1,700 a quintal so far this year, the firming up of rice prices might push up paddy prices too, industry sources say.

The reduction of import duty also comes as a breather for rice millers dealing in parboiled variety here. The millers had been hit due to poor demand in the domestic market on the back of huge availability of PDS rice.

Published on August 16, 2021

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