China has started buying small quantities of rice from the world’s largest exporter of the grain, India, whose shipments are set to hit a record this year, a top industry official said.
Vinod Kaul, executive director of All India Rice Exporters Association, said in an interview that the orders for shipments have been placed recently.
There are only 24 Indian mills that are approved for exports to China.
China is usually the world’s largest rice producer, but this year is seeing a sharp rise in domestic prices due to poor yields in the Jiangxi, Hunan and Ho provinces.
Rice traders and rice millers in China are facing a shortage of supplies due to unfavourable weather and the Covid-19 pandemic impact on the central rice-growing provinces and South of China. This trend is expected to last until the end of this year.
On the other hand, second-largest rice producer India is expecting a record rice harvest this year. It has been exporting the grain to a number of in Asia, the Middle East as well as Africa, providing it much-needed revenues during a bad year for the economy.
Basmati exports seen sharply up
India has exported 2.5 million tons of basmati exports and 5 million tons of non-basmati rice in the first half of the current fiscal year, up 28% and 103.5% respectively.
If the same trend is maintained, exports of basmati rice are expected to touch 5 million tons and 9 million tons of non-basmati tons this fiscal year, All India Rice Exporters Association of India’s Kaul said.
However, he said there could be some slackness in demand over the next two months as many countries advanced their purchases to stock up in anticipation of supply disruptions due to the covid pandemic.
“There might be some downtrend in basmati rice exports, but we are not anticipating any slackness in non-basmati rice because Africa has opened up in a big way,” Kaul said.
Last year non-basmati exports was 5 million tons, while in the two previous years it was 7.5 million tons and 8 million tons respectively.
India’s basmati exports annually usually range from 4-4.5 million tons.
Getting into Iran
Kaul said that Indian rice exporters are trying to resume supplies to Iran, traditionally the largest market for Indian basmati rice, which has been disrupted due to payment problems following US sanctions on the Middle East nation.
He said the Iranian government has assured of a solution to the payment impasse.
Demand for Indian rice remains intact, though rival Pakistan is a strong competitor in this market.
Meanwhile, India has sought a Geographical Indicator tag for its basmati rice, which if it comes through will choke off Pakistani exports of the grain.
“It is under consideration of the European Union and a draft notification has been issued by them, inviting comments from all stakeholders,” Kaul said, adding that it was issued in October.
He expected a decision before the year-end.