The Union Government’s decision to levy duty on the export of non-Basmati rice could severely impact the export opportunity for farmers, mills and traders in South India, according to South India Rice Millers Association.

The association has felt that Sona Masoori, predominantly grown in the South, is a top favourite for the Diaspora in the Gulf, Europe, Eastern countries and in the North America.

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“Levying a hefty duty of 20 per cent on export of non-Basmati rice could seriously harm the interests of the farmers, millers and traders in the Southern States,” South India Rice Millers Association Tudi Devender Reddy told BusinessLine.

He said the move could cause a loss of ₹600 on a quintal of rice that was priced at ₹3,000.

Price plummets

“As a result of the move, the price has plummeted by 10 per cent. It is unfortunate that the decision came at a time when the commodity was ripe for sales and promised good returns for farmers and traders,” he said.

The association demanded that the Sona Masoori should get the exemption on par with Basmati rice and help farmers tap the opportunity in the international markets.

Rice consumers like the variety for its fineness and flavour and has been a favourite staple variety for crores of people in India and abroad.

That two-thirds of the 62 lakh acres of paddy grown in Telangana is Sona Masoori shows how important the crop is for farmers. “Actually, the State and Central Governments should take measures to get a Geographical Indicator (GI) tag for this rice variety to tap the huge opportunity in the premium markets of the world,” he said.

The Centre, which had discouraged the paddy cultivation, is now trying to stymie the export opportunity citing the dwindling rice reserves.

Apart from the traditional Diaspora markets, the market for Sona Masoori is growing significantly in the markets like Bangladesh as the appetite for branded rice saw an uptick there, he said.

“A hefty of levy on exports at this juncture could seriously harm our interests,” he said.

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