Decision on rice export soon: Thomas

Decision on rice export soon: Thomas

Speaking to Deccan Herald Thomas said the Empowered Group of Ministers on food headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee will take a call on this issue in its next meeting. Though the meeting was not scheduled, the minister said it will be take place in two weeks.

The exact quantity of rice to be exported will be decided by the EGoM, but sources in the Food Ministry said that there was a demand to export around 10 lakh tonne of rice immediately.

The Food Ministry had received memoranda to allow export of three varieties of non-basmati rice — sona masuri (produced in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh), ponni (produced in Tamil Nadu and rosematta (produced in Kerala).

In February, expecting a record rice production, the government partially rolled back the ban on non-basmati rice exports and allowed to shipment of one lakh tonne sona masuri, 25,000 each of ponni and rosematta.

However, Thomas said as only 60 per cent of the total 1.5 lakh tonne was exported by traders earlier this year, the Centre’s decision will be purely based on the demand this time.

Except basmati, export of all other varieties of rice was banned since 2008. Though there has been a demand from exporters to lift the ban with the high domestic production, which is around 940 lakh tonne, the Centre was dithering to take a decision as it was planning to rollout the Food Security Act.

Under the proposed law, which the government plans to give legal rights on subsidised food to about 70 per cent of the country’s population, the Centre needed 70 million tonne of foodgrain (both rice and wheat) per annum.

At present the country’s food stock stood 58 million tonne which is still a short fall of 12 million tonne. On the demand to increase the minimum support price (MSP) of rice, the minister said the government will announce its decision in September before the beginning of rice harvesting season.

Currently the MSP for A  grade rice is Rs 1,110 per quintal while it is Rs 1080 per quintal for common variety.

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