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India may export 14,000 tonnes of non-basmati rice to Mauritius and 7,500 tonnes of onions to Qatar

20 May 2024

India is planning to export 14,000 tonnes of non-basmati rice to Mauritius, and 7,500 tonnes of onions to Qatar through National Cooperative Exports Ltd. (NCEL), after the ministry of external affairs (MEA) requested for some relaxation in the export ban, a senior official said.

The government-to-government export comes against the backdrop of an export ban since last July, and the government lifting ban on onion exports but slapping a $550 per tonne minimum export price (MEP) and 40% export duty on onions earlier this month. These exports to India’s strategic partner countries come amid the government’s efforts to keep domestic prices in check amid shortfall in the production.

“We received a request from MEA for export of non-basmati rice and onion to Mauritius and Qatar," the official said, who did not wish to be identified.

"Although it recommended 24,000 tonnes of non-basmati rice to supply to Mauritius and 15,000 tonnes of onions over the next two months to Qatar, the committee decided to export 14,000 tonnes of non-basmati rice to Mauritius, and 7,500 tonnes of onions to Qatar through NCEL. A final call will, however, be taken by the top authorities,” the official added.

India has been supplying rice and onions to its key strategic countries at the government-to-government level since it imposed a ban on exports of non-basmati white rice last July and onions last December amid concerns over food inflation due to poor crop prospects.

However, the Indian government on 4 May lifted the ban on exports of the politically sensitive commodity but imposed an MEP of $550 per tonne and 40% export tariff ahead of key onion growing and consuming regions of Maharashtra going into the Lok Sabha polls.

In a clarification, the consumer affairs secretary said that the decision was made after thorough consultation with stakeholders, and assessing the supply, crop and prices situation.

Rabi, or winter, onion output that was estimated to be lower than the previous season could be higher at 19.1 million tonnes, sufficient to meet the monthly domestic demand of 1.7 million tonnes, it was estimated.

After the ban, the Indian government allowed exports of 99,150 tonnes of onions to six neighbouring countries, Bangladesh, UAE, Bhutan, Bahrain, Mauritius and Sri Lanka through its export body NCEL which was set up under the Multi-State Cooperative Societies (MSCS) Act, 2002 to export agricultural produce and allied items. It exported a record 2.5 million tonnes of onions in FY23.

In the case of rice, the government cleared exports of 2.77 million tonnes (mt) of non-basmati white rice to 14 key Asian and African nations, including Singapore, Nepal, Malaysia, and the Philippines.

Rice exports to South Asian countries alone was worth $567 million in April-November of FY24 compared to $1.24 billion in the corresponding period last year. Rice exports to Asean countries was $341 million as against $541 million in the same period of FY23. The South Asian countries named above are not part of Asean.

Due to restrictive rice export norms, India could export only 1.75 mt of rice during April to mid-May 2024, lower from 2.35 mt during the same period last year. In FY24, the country exported 15.7 mt compared to 21.8 mt in FY23, according to official data. The rice export basket contains broken, non-basmati, parboiled and basmati varieties.

Queries sent to the external affairs, commerce and consumer affairs, food and public distribution ministries remained unanswered.

Source : msn