Rice exporters have urged the government to ease restrictions on non-basmati rice shipments by removing the 20 per cent export duty on white (raw) rice and allowing the shipment of one million tonnes (mt) of broken rice. However, the Centre is unlikely to take a decision before March as it has to assess the procurement of kharif-grown paddy by the Food Corporation of India (FCI).

In a letter to the Food Ministry, which proposed restrictions on export last year to ensure domestic availability and curb inflation, The Rice Exporters Association (TREA) said due to the 20 per cent export duty, exporters are facing stiff competition from Myanmar, Vietnam, Pakistan and Thailand.

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Exporters said ever since the duty was imposed, their margins have shrunk, though rice trade is done at a “thin margin”.

Upbeat wheat outlook

“The issue (export duty) should be relooked at now as the twin objectives of keeping inflation under check and taking procurement to a comfortable level have been achieved,” said B V Krishna Rao, President of TREA. He said as the wheat crop outlook is good and the pressure on rice has eased as the Government reallocated more rice in place of wheat under the public distribution system.

On the issue of the total ban on fully broken rice export, Rao said TREA has suggested the allocation of one mt as there is a demand from Senegal and Indonesia for human consumption. This will help farmers to receive better rates for their paddy as other industry users such as poultry or ethanol might not pay adequate rates, he said.

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The Directorate-General of Foreign Trade on September 8 issued a notification prohibiting the export of broken rice (parboiled and basmati exempted). However, it allowed the consignments for which deals had been signed to be exported under specific conditions between September 9 and 15. It recently extended the last date to September 30 for those under transitional arrangements. The Centre imposed a 20 per cent duty on the export of all varieties of rice, except basmati and parboiled rice.

The country exported 115.69 lt of non-basmati rice worth $4.11 billion (₹ 32,594 crore) in April-November against 109.49 lt worth $3.93 billion in the year-ago period.