R. Ramabhadran Pillai
‘Procurement position better’
Ban in view of shortage of internal supply
Main export market is Gulf countries
KOCHI: Rice millers in Kerala will approach the Union government to lift the ban on export of non-basmati rice. Though the demand was raised two months ago, no action came forth as the election process had been set in motion then. Kalady Rice Millers Consortium Private Ltd. and the Rice Mill Owners Association have decided to take up the issue with the new government shortly.
The ban on export of non-basmati rice and certain pulses was implemented a year ago in the backdrop of deficiency in internal supply. Crop failure in several parts of the country had forced the country to streamline the supply. The stock position of cereals and pulses had improved subsequently and the government had lifted the ban partially on certain commodities. The rice millers have taken a cue from the act and are hoping to get a liberal response from the government in the case of export of non-basmati rice too.
The procurement position has become comfortable and the export of rice would not in any way impact the domestic supply-demand position, Kalady Rice Millers Consortium president N.P. Antony told The Hindu.
The rice export from the State is mainly intended for non-resident Keralites. The export market for non-basmati rice is mostly in Gulf countries. Malayalis are main consumers of ‘matta’ rice variety and the non-resident Keralites have been put to hardship because of the ban, he said. The situation has facilitated the arrival of rice to Gulf countries from countries such as Sri Lanka. There is every possibility of the non-resident Malayalis continuing the habit of consumption of the foreign variety in the event of non-availability of home grown variety for a long time. This would result in the loss of the Gulf market for the rice from Kerala, he said.
Farmers to gain
The export of rice would be most helpful to the farmer, Kerala Rice Mill Owners Association secretary Varkey Peter said. Export would spur demand, facilitating intensive farming and better price discovery. The impact of the export on the local supply position would be negligible. “Even if there is a marginal increase in the price in the market, it should be permissible if the farmer is the beneficiary,” he said.
Andhra Pradesh and other States had abundant stock as there had been no crop failures in the last season. There are no curbs on the movement of rice from Andhra Pradesh to Kerala or other States. The millers in Kerala have been getting steady supply of paddy from Karnataka too.