Indian basmati set to enter China, Mexico

July 1st, 2008 - 1:49 pm ICT by IANS  

By Rajeev Ranjan Roy
New Delhi, July 1 (IANS) Indian basmati rice will shortly enter the kitchens in China and Mexico. At present, basmati is exported to over 130 countries, and the government hopes to tap the huge markets of China and Mexico in a couple of years.

“India’s export of basmati is increasing 20 to 30 percent every year,” said A.K. Gupta, advisor, Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), India’s official agri-product export promotion agency.

“In terms of quality, flavour and taste, our product continues to get preference over that of the rival exporting country,” he said, referring to Pakistan.

“Efforts are on to expand the market worldwide,” Gupta told IANS.

Some of the major importers of India’s basmati rice are Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the UAE, the UK, the US, Yemen, Canada, Iran, Germany, Oman, South Africa, France, Syria, Belgium, Australia and Germany.

India’s share in the global market for basmati rice is about 53 percent and efforts like buyer-seller meets, mounting trade delegations abroad are afoot to expand the consumer base.

“In a couple of years, we hope to carve a niche for basmati rice in China and Mexico as well,” Gupta said, adding that China held huge prospects for Indian basmati.

As a trial, India had exported 54 tonnes of basmati to China in 2006-07.

Over the past few years, India’s export of basmati jumped from 848,919 tonnes to 1.05 million tonnes in 2006-07.

The country had exported 597,793 tonnes in 1998-99.

The government has set a production of target of 129 million tonnes of basmati and non-basmati rice by 2011-12 on a growth rate of 3.7 percent along with other foodgrains.

“Four years down the road, India needs to increase rice productivity by over 40 million tonnes per year, something which is feasible,” said an agriculture ministry official.

“In 2006-07, consumption of rice was 88.25 million tonnes. As per the fourth advance estimates on July 19, 2007, the production of rice was over 92 million tonnes. In April 2008, rice production went up to 95.68 million tonnes,” the official added.

In a bid to rein in inflation, currently soaring at 11.42 percent, the Cabinet Committee on Prices (CCP) March 31 increased maximum export price (MEP) for basmati rice to $1200 per tonne, a move the official said would have little impact on the export of basmati rice.

Among foodgrains, basmati and non-basmati rice is the staple source of foreign currency revenue.

For instance, the government exported basmati worth about Rs.200 billion and non-basmati rice worth Rs.294 billion, against pulses worth Rs.6.52 billion during April-December 2006.

The export of wheat during the same period was worth around Rs.340 million.

APEDA data shows Saudi Arabia imported 499,584 tonnes of basmati rice and Kuwait 109,067 tonnes in 2006-07. India exported 104,998 tonnes to the UAE during the same period.

Though in a small quantity, Indian basmati rice has also found lovers in Uganda, Angola, Congo, Botswana, Fiji, Ghana, Cameroon, Chile, Romania, Zambia and Surinam.

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