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August 05, 2008

Indian government to consider exports of rice to Africa

With the area under paddy cultivation increasing, the Indian government is mulling at allowing exports of about three million tonnes of non-basmati rice to African countries after November.
Currently, export of non-basmati rice is banned to ensure availability of the commodity in the domestic market and to keep a check on inflation, which has since come closer to the 12 per cent mark.

"Even if the ban is not fully lifted, we may export 2-3 million tonnes after November to some African countries," a top Commerce Ministry official said.

He said a bumper crop of 94 million tonnes of non-basmati rice is expected in November, of which six million tonnes would be surplus. India's summer-sown rice crop was planted on 23.13 million hectares as on July 31, up 11 per cent from 20.76 million hectares a year-ago. Besides a ban on the non-basmati variety, export restrictions like minimum price fixation of 1,000 dollar per tonne and export tax were imposed on the expensive basmati rice.

The country saw a record production of 96.43 million tonnes in the 2007-08 season. The rice harvest comes into the market from October. Export was allowed for the following six months, before being banned in April this year.

However, Rice exporters demanded that export ban of non-basmati rice be eased and suggested that the Centre may put a cap on the quantity to be shipped for its adequate availability in the domestic market.

There are many options available with the government to regulate instead of putting a blanket ban on the exports, All India Rice Exporters Association President Vijay Setia said.

PTI

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