India to export rice to Mauritius & Bhutan in an exception for friends

India will supply 14,000 tonnes of non-basmati rice this year to Mauritius and 79,000 tonnes to Bhutan under humanitarian operations, making an exception for two key diplomatic partners.

The decision has been taken after India received requests from both the nations to exempt the export prohibition on non-basmati rice, two government officials aware of the matter said.

Mint on 20 August reported that after the UN World Food Programme, and three nations—Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines—had appealed to New Delhi to resume rice exports to their nations following India’s decision to suspend non-basmati white rice shipments to check prices effective from 20 July.

Bhutan requested India to allow rice exports after India’s ban on shipments of non-basmati rice caused global rice prices to rise. Bhutan in late July made a diplomatic request for rice shipments of up to 90,000 tonnes.

Similarly, a request from the Mauritius to exempt it from the prohibition for a supply of up to 14,000 tonnes was also received earlier this month.

‘Consignments of 60 containers carrying about 1,500 tonnes of non-basmati rice were due to sail on 19 August from Mundra port (in Gujarat). After the clearance, the containers will reach Mauritius in the first week of September before their rice stocks exhaust on 15 September. A total requirement of 14,000 tonnes of non-basmati rice is to be imported from India this year,’ one of the government officials said.

Mauritius is a close and trusted foreign partner of India and annually imports around 24,000 tonnes of long grain white rice that is consumed by vulnerable groups.

During April-June of the ongoing financial year, India exported 784.14 tonnes of rice to Mauritius as against 843.46 tonnes during the corresponding period last year. In 2022-23 financial year, nearly 10,040 tonnes rice were exported to the nation by India.

Queries mailed to the embassies of Mauritius and the Bhutan in New Delhi, and India’s department of food and public distribution remained unanswered at press time.

India is the world’s biggest rice exporter, accounting for nearly 45% of the global rice trade. In April-June of the current financial year, the country exported 1.55 million tonnes of non-basmati white rice and 371,000 tonnes of broken rice compared with last year’s 1.15 mt and 141,000 tonnes, respectively.Neighbouring countries, including Bangladesh and Nepal, are heavily dependent on Indian rice, while some African countries are purchasers of broken rice.

India’s rice export ban, however, allows for government-to-government deals and for requests made by ‘friendly countries’ with genuine food-security needs

‘To ensure adequate availability of non-basmati white rice in the Indian market and to allay the rise in prices in the domestic market, the government of India has amended the export policy from ‘free with export duty of 20%’ to ‘prohibited’,’ the government announced in July.’But there is no change in the export policy of non-basmati rice (parboiled rice) and basmati rice, which form the bulk of rice exports. This will ensure that the farmers continue to get the benefit of remunerative prices in the international market,’ read a press release by the ministry of consumer affairs, food and public distribution.

This article has been republished from Livemint

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