After Covid, stir hits rice exporters hard

4,000 containers carrying basmati, other items stranded at dry ports across state

After Covid, stir hits rice exporters hard

Exporters are worried over timely deliveries to overseas clients. file

Shivani Bhakoo

Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 11

Owing to the ongoing farmers’ agitation, more than 4,000 export containers carrying Punjab-produced items, including foodgrain such as basmati and other perishable goods, are stranded at the dry ports across the state.

There are 8 dry ports in Ludhiana, one each in Jalandhar & Dapar

The rice exporters are worried they may not be able to keep the timely delivery commitment made to overseas clients. Unless the produce is delivered in time, exporters will not be able to secure repeat orders for rice this season, they say.

Jalandhar exporter Viney Gupta, who runs a government-recognised export house, says he ships rice to countries such as the UK, US, Australia, Canada, etc. “The procurement season is on but containers full of rice are stuck at dry ports. We can’t purchase more basmati from the farmer when the previous stock hasn’t been cleared (lifted for export). Farmers will be the ultimate sufferers if the containers remain stranded. We urge the government to declare rice an essential commodity and save both farmers and exporters,” says Gupta.

Rice is exported from other states such as Haryana, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh as well. If Punjab is hit, buyers will go to these states for basmati. Pakistan too is a viable option for them, he says.

Rice intermediary from Jalalabad Naresh Batra says the farmers’ agitation has come as a double whammy for them as exports had already been suffering because of Covid-19.

“How can we get more orders when the previous consignments are not cleared and payments are not made? The price of basmati has already gone down since shipments are not going out on a regular basis. The problem of non-availability of containers is also there,” said Batra.

The overall impact of stranded containers is expected to be significant across the rice supply chain, right from farmers, millers to exporters, they say.

“The movement of containers is in the interest of farmers. We want the Punjab Government to intervene to resolve the issue and facilitate immediate movement of containers,” said Gupta.

In total, there are 10 dry ports in the state, including eight in Ludhiana - ICD, Concor; Gateway Rail Freight Limited; Pristine Mega Logistics Park; Hind Terminals Private Limited; Overseas Warehousing Private Limited; Punjab State WareHousing Corporation; Adani Logistics; and Krishna Cargomovers. The other two are in Jalandhar and Mohali.

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