India, a traditional rice exporter, will import the grain for the first time in 20 years to meet a projected shortfall of the crop hit by drought and floods, the government said on Wednesday.
“We started rice season, that is from October 2009, with almost six million tonnes of surplus ... Still there is a projection that there is some shortfall of Kharif crops. So to make it up, we have to make some imports,” Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said two days ahead of the Ministerial meeting to review foodgrains stocks and prices.
Mr. Mukherjee, who heads the Empowered Group of Ministers on foodgrains, however, did not reveal the quantum and the timing of imports.
“Exactly what quantum and at what time, I can’t say,” he said on the sidelines of a Union Bank of India function here.
The government estimates that there would be a shortfall of over 15 million tonnes in the 2009-10 Kharif (summer) season due to drought and floods in several States.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, India, the second largest rice producer in the world, may import 2,00,000 tonnes of rice if there is greater price parity to meet the domestic demand. — PTI
Global tenders floated
Sujay Mehdudia reports:
The government has announced that it has floated global tenders and is in talks with countries for import of rice.
Union Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said the government was already in the action mode on this front and had initiated talks with a number of countries and prices were being negotiated. He indicated that India was already talking to Thailand, considered one of the biggest producers of rice. The Public Sector Units had already floated global tenders but the price quoted in some of the bids was not what the government was looking at.
State Trading Corporation, the MMTC and the PEC had floated tenders to import 30,000 tonnes of rice for sale in the domestic market. These agencies had received 18 bids in a price range of $ 372-598 a tonne. The PSUs were yet to take a decision and had asked the government for extending the validity period of bids till November 23.
Mr. Sharma said the EGoM would meet on November 20 to discuss the rice import and the price at which it should be done. Other issues concerning food commodities could also come up for consideration, including sharp rise in prices.
In the Kharif season, rice production is estimated to have dropped by 15 million tonnes.
Responding to the demand for banning cotton exports in view of increasing prices in the domestic market, Mr. Sharma said the Textile Ministry had written to the Commerce Ministry and the Ministry was seized of the matter and was in talks with stakeholders.