M A I N   N E W S

Nod to southern non-basmati exports miffs region
Ruchika M. Khanna/TNS

Chandigarh, February 9
The government today decided to allow exports of three varieties of superior non-basmati rice, grown in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala. This will allow farmers in these states realise better prices for their produce. But this is not good news for farmers in Punjab and Haryana. Even though they contribute 45 per cent to the Central pool, the varieties grown here have not been allowed for exports.

The Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) has partially lifted the three-year-old ban on export of Sona Masuri, Ponni and Rosematta varieties of superior non-basmati rice. The government has allowed for export of 1.50 lakh tonne of these three varieties, by fixing a minimum export price of $850 per tonne.

Rice exporters say the decision to allow export of these three varieties will help farmers get a better price for their produce. “At present, these varieties are being sold at Rs 20- 22 per kg in the domestic market, but with exports being allowed, farmers in the four southern states can actually get a price of Rs 30 per kg,” said an exporter from Amritsar. It is learnt that international prices of the non-basmati rice are quite high, at around $2 per kg.

Before the government had banned the export of rice three years ago, the three varieties were selling at Rs 30 per kg. But a ban on exports led to a fall in their prices and the producers of these varieties had been suffering huge losses.

Though the decision to allow the export of these varieties will augur well for growers in South India, farmers and traders in this region feel that they have been short-changed. Sources in the agriculture departments of both Punjab and Haryana said as acknowledgement of their “maximum contribution” to the Central pool, the popular superior non-basmati varieties grown here like Sugandha, Sharbati, Pepsi and 999 too should have been included in the list of varieties allowed for exports.

Currently, these varieties are fetching anything between Rs 35 and Rs 40 per kg in the domestic market. Agriculture experts and rice exporters feel that at a time when the government’s stocks are overflowing (there is a 8 million tonne buffer stock of wheat and rice) and with advance estimates pointing to a bumper harvest, the government should have allowed exports of all superior non-basmati varieties. Vijay Setia, president of the All India Rice Exporters Association, too, while supporting the demand of farmers and exporters in Punjab and Haryana, said the government should reconsider its decision and lift the ban on exports of all superior non-basmati varieties.





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