Agri Business

Centre to export rice through diplomatic channels

M. R. Subramani Mumbai | Updated on March 12, 2018

The Union Agriculture Minister, Mr Sharad Pawar (right), with the Union Minister for Science and Technology, Mr Vilasrao Deskmukh, at the inauguration of the world cotton research conference in Mumbai. Photo: M.R. Subramani   -  Business Line

The Centre will export rice through diplomatic channels to Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, the Union Agriculture and Food Processing Industries Minister, Mr Sharad Pawar, said on Monday.

However, Indonesia, which had sought a similar arrangement, will have to buy the foodgrain for its needs from private traders, he told reporters here on the sidelines of the World Cotton Research Conference.

India has already begun exporting three lakh tonnes of rice to Bangladesh on government-to-government account at Rs 20,000 a tonne from September. The exports will be from the 30 lakh tonnes of non-basmati rice permitted by the Centre on the heels of record production in wheat and bulging buffer stocks.

Foodgrain stocks with the Centre as on October 1 were 51.78 million tonnes (mt) with rice making up 20.3 mt and wheat the rest.

Indonesia had last month, through a delegation that met the Union Minister of State for Food and Consumer Affairs, Prof K.V. Thomas, sought five lakh tonnes of rice. The plea comes at a time when the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, is scheduled to visit Indonesia during November 17-20.

Mr Pawar said the Centre had allowed foodgrain exports of 30 lakh tonnes each of non-basmati rice and wheat and the shipments would not be made from the stocks with the Food Corporation of India.

To a question on allowing further sugar exports, he said it was for the Food Ministry to decide.

Asked about demand to reduce the minimum export price (MEP) of $475 a tonne for onion, Mr Pawar said his Ministry would be writing to the Commerce Ministry on the issue this week.

“We have taken stock of the situation. We will be writing to the Commerce Ministry on reducing the MEP this week,’’ he said.

While allowing foodgrain exports, the Centre had banned onion exports on September 7. The ban was lifted a fortnight later after farmers and traders boycotted trading but a MEP of $475 was fixed. Then, the Government had said that the MEP would be reviewed every fortnight.

Of late, traders and exporters have been demanding review of the MEP as onion prices have tended to drop in the domestic market. Though prices had gained last week, they are still lower than what the growers claim as production costs.

Mr Pawar said that the Government was not worried over the crop holiday declared by paddy growers in East and West Godavari districts of Andhra Pradesh. “The area (where crop holiday is being observed) is small,’’ he said.

Earlier, inaugurating the fifth World Cotton Research Conference, Mr Pawar said Indian cotton growers should go beyond Bt cotton and address new challenges. He called for focus on short staple cotton varieties as they had a wider usage.

He also expressed concern over Bt-I cotton being affected in Maharashtra. “Results of Bt-II cotton are encouraging but Bt-I cotton seems to have been affected going by feedback from farmers,’’ he said.


The Union Minister for Science and Technology, Mr Vilasrao Deshmukh, said that the Government had finalised the Biotechnology Regulatory Authority. “A bill to set up the authority will be introduced in the winter session of Parliament,’’ he said.

The Union Textiles Commissioner, Mr A.B. Joshi, said that the Technology Mission on Cotton had helped to modernise the industry and improve productivity. But the country was still lagging behind in production compared with other countries such as Brazil and China. He called for research to meet the demand for organic, suvin and extra long staple cotton.

The Indian Council for Agricultural Research, Dr S. Ayyappan, called for efforts to tackle emerging minor pests in cotton.

Published on November 07, 2011

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