The Solvent Extractors’ Association of India (SEA) has asked the Indian Government to not extend the ban on the export of de-oiled rice bran beyond March 31.

In a letter to Piyush Goyal, Union Minister of Commerce and Industry, Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution; and Parshottam Rupala, Union Minister of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying; the President of SEA, Ajay Jhunjhunwala, said the total export of de-oiled rice bran constitutes only around 6 per cent of the production. The restriction has adversely affected processors and exporters along with paddy farmers, hindering them from realising better returns on their produce, he said.

The government banned the export of de-oiled rice bran in a notification dated July 28, 2023, effective until November 30, 2023. This was further extended till March 31, 2024 in a notification dated December 8, 2023.

Stating that processing of ricebran has picked up with the commencement of new season in November, he said availability of de-oiled ricebran has improved. This is evident from the reduction of price from ₹18,000 a tonne on July 28 2023 (the date of issuing notification) to ₹12,500 a tonne at present.

Mentioning that the industry benefits from the export of de-oiled rice bran, he said easy clearance of meal leads to sustained processing, leading to better capacity utilisation, continuous oil availability, increased employment, and significant value addition along with valuable foreign exchange.

Main importers

India, which has successfully developed export market for de-oiled rice bran over the last 30 years, primarily serves Vietnam, Thailand, Bangladesh and other Asian countries. “An abrupt change in export policy has given opportunity to our competing countries like Sri Lanka, Bangladesh to capture Vietnam market for de-oiled ricebran and the market will be lost in no time,” he said.

Eastern States, including West Bengal, are a significant producer of de-oiled ricebran. Since the cattle feed industry remains underdeveloped in this part of the country, there is limited demand for de-oiled ricebran in eastern India, he said.

“The exorbitant local freight charges to move de-oiled ricebran from eastern India to south or west India makes export the principal means of disposal for de-oiled ricebran in the region. Since export is banned, ricebran processors in Eastern India are facing the prospect of shutting down their operations, adversely impacting the rice milling industry and reducing ricebran oil production,” Jhunjhunwala said.

No fall in milk price

Though export restriction on de-oiled ricebran was imposed in July 2023 to ease milk prices, there is almost no reduction in milk prices across the country since this ban, he said. This is because the cost component of de-oiled ricebran in milk price is very nominal. “We are still of the view that continuing this ban will not support reduction in milk prices but will continue to negatively impact the ricebran processors and de-oiled ricebran exporters,” he said, and requested the government not to extend the ban beyond March 31.