Rice association calls for lifting ban on non-basmati exports

Agriculture minister Sharad Pawar had said the issue of allowing export of some non- basmati rice varieties will be discussed in the forthcoming meeting of the Empowered Group of Ministers on food

India could export up to 5 lakh tonnes of superior-variety non-basmati rice in the current fiscal if the Centre partially lifts the ban on shipment of the commodity, reports PTI.

Last week, agriculture and food minister Sharad Pawar had said the government will consider allowing export of some particular varieties of non-basmati rice this year.

"If the government allows the export of non-basmati superior varieties of rice like 'Sharabati' and 'Sugandha', the country can export up to 5 lakh tonnes, as there is a great global demand," Rice Exporters Association president Vijay Sethia told PTI.

Mr Sethia suggested that the government may fix the minimum export price (MEP) at $800-$850 per tonne for shipment of superior varieties of non-basmati rice. India had banned export of non-basmati rice in April, 2008, to check inflation.

However, the government has allowed export of basmati rice by fixing the MEP at $900 per tonne.

Mr Pawar had said the issue of allowing export of some non- basmati rice varieties will be discussed in the forthcoming meeting of the Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) on food, headed by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee.

The minister had said that some states have requested the government to allow the export of a particular variety of rice produced in Kerala, as there is a high demand for the same in Gulf countries.

Mr Sethia said the ban on the export on non-basmati rice has allowed rival Pakistan to emerge as the largest exporter of rice in the world.

"Pakistani traders have advantages, as they can offer both basmati and non-basmati varieties of rice. However, if India allows export of some non-basmati rice varieties, then it will benefit both traders and farmers," Mr Sethia said.

According to official data, the country is estimated to have harvested 89.13 million tonnes of rice in the 2009-10 crop year (July-June), as against a record 99.18 million tonnes in the previous year.

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