The Government of India has approved the export of 3.5 lakh tonnes of broken rice to Gambia and Senegal as shipments of this variety were banned on September 8, 2022.
According to a communication sent by the Finance Ministry (seen by business-line) to Chief Commissioners of Customs in Ahmedabad, Chennai, Vizag, Nagpur, and Mumbai, the Commerce Ministry has allowed the export of 1 lakh tonnes of broken rice to Gambia and 2.5 lakh tonnes to Senegal.
In addition, the Ministry has allowed shipments of 9,990 tonnes of broken rice to Djibouti, Ethiopia. The shipment will be done by Chennai-based Ruby Overseas.
In the case of Gambia, of the total quantity approved for exports, the Centre has cleared requests to export broken rice from Royal Mirage Consultant (5,000 tonnes), Sarala Food Pvt Ltd (12,500 tonnes), and Laxmi Group of Industries Pvt Ltd (2,000 tonnes).
For Senegal, the Ministry has cleared 1,12,500 tonnes of the total 2.5 lakh tonnes with Sarala Foods, Sri Chitra Exports, Manasa Quality Enterprises Ltd, Pattabhi Agro Foods Pvt Ltd, and CLRK Industries Pvt Ltd getting to ship out 22,500 tonnes each.
A section of the trade is irked over the permission for exports of broken rice, wondering why the Centre was permitting the shipments to these countries when it is not allowed to other destinations.
“What is the obligation the Government has towards the countries? Why relax a blanket ban imposed on food security grounds?” a Delhi-based trader asked.
However, a trade analyst said exports to Gambia, Senegal, and Djibouti have been approved by the Commerce Ministry following a request from the Ministry of External Affairs.
Permits for strategic reasons
“The exports are being allowed for strategic reasons and since the External Affairs Ministry is involved,” the analyst, who did not wish to be identified, said.
Pointing out to the Centre’s notifications while banning wheat exports and curbing rice shipments, the analyst said India is clear that it will meet the food needs of “vulnerable countries”.
“The External Affairs Ministry would have taken various reasons into consideration before approaching the Commerce Ministry,” he said.
The Centre banned exports of broken rice and imposed a 20 per cent duty on shipments of white and brown rice after the kharif paddy production was affected by the deficient monsoon in key rice-growing regions in the eastern parts.
In the kharif season, rice production was estimated lower at 108.07 million tonnes (mt) in 2022 compared with 111 mt in 2021. But rabi output has made up for the loss with the Ministry of Agriculture estimating it at 22.76 mt against 18.47 mt a year ago.
For the current crop year to June, the Ministry of Agriculture has estimated rice production at a record 130.84 million tonnes against 129.47 million tonnes in the last crop year.