KOLKATA, Jul 13, 2020, Economic Times. The resumption of trade with Bangladesh through the West Bengal border has raised hopes among India’s non-basmati rice traders of getting fresh orders from the neighbouring country. Trucks carrying rice are currently going through the Petrapole-Benapole border, fulfilling orders which were placed prior to the Covid-19 outbreak, Economic Times reported.
“Bangladesh largely buys non-basmati rice. We have come to know that Bangladesh will import rice from India this year,” said Vinod Kaul, executive director, All India Rice Exporters’ Association. “We are getting in touch with the Indian embassy in Bangladesh and Bangladesh embassy in New Delhi to get a clearer picture on this issue.”
India had exported 7,599,552.15 metric tonnes of non-basmati rice worth Rs 21,184.85 crore in 2018-19.
Traders said rice millers in Bangladesh were demanding high prices for rice that they would provide to the government warehouses. “Rice consumption has increased in Bangladesh as people are staying indoors due to the coronavirus outbreak. Eating out has stopped. This is increasing the demand for rice in the country. We are now fulfilling our old orders which are being sent to Bangladesh now,” said Suraj Agarwal, CEO, Tirupati Agri Trade.
Agarwal said a decision from the Bangladesh government on import of rice from India is expected by the end of July. Bangladesh has imposed an import duty of 55% on rice, but traders said the government is likely to bring down import duty on rice shortly.
Rice millers in Bangladesh are not providing rice to the government warehouses at a fixed rate, said traders. The food directorate of Bangladesh procured 0.34 million tonnes of the staple till July 5 and the target is to procure 19.5 million tonnes by August 31, they said.
If Bangladesh imports from India, it will help the Indian rice trade as prices have fallen in the country since the outbreak of Covid-19. Subrata Mondol, a rice miller from West Bengal said, “Since all the state governments in the country are providing free rice to their people, prices have fallen.”
Exports to Bangladesh will help rice millers recover their costs, said Mondol .
Besides Bangladesh, India’s non-basmati rice exporters have a chance to export to Thailand and Vietnam, where non-basmati paddy crop has failed.
“All countries are trying to create a buffer stock of rice to deal with the uncertainty created by the pandemic,” said Agarwal.