The Indian government may consider more non-basmati rice exports in addition to one million tonnes already approved, Food Minister K.V. Thomas said on Wednesday, as part of its efforts to trim bulging stocks.Several Indian states have asked the government to allow more rice exports as a first round of one million tonnes remains blocked by a court and stocks are still bulging.Thomas, who took independent charge of the portfolio in July, said on Friday India could consider allowing an extra one million tonnes of rice exports at the next meeting of a panel of ministers, which can act without cabinet approval.“We have received several proposals for allowing exports from states like Andhra Pradesh where production was more than expectations,” Thomas told reporters. “We will consider the states’ request,” he added.India, the world’s biggest rice producer after China, eased a 2008 ban in July with the first exports allowed since a clampdown then to bolster domestic supplies .But a court ordered suspension of the exports after the All India Rice Exporters Association questioned the government’s policy of allocating the quotas for overseas sales to 82 private millers on a first come, first served basis.The procedure was “bad in law and unreasonable,” Sumeer Sodhi, the lawyer representing the All India Rice Exporters Association, told Reuters.
The court is likely to take up the case again on Sept.7 , said Sodhi.
India’s rice producers are calling for exports as supply outstrips demand and stocks -used for the government’s subsidised food programmes -are far higher than targeted.
In its latest forecast, the farm ministry has estimated 2010/11 rice output at 95.32 million tonnes, up from 89.09 million tonnes in the previous year and against consumption which averages around 90 million tonnes a year. Aug.1 rice stocks at government warehouses were at 25.27 million tonnes against a target of 9.8 million tonnes.
The All India Rice Exporters’ Association said any fresh tranche of exports would not be affected by the court order. “The stay (order) is specifically for the current lot permitted by the government last month. The court case will have no impact on any fresh lot to be permitted,” said Vijay Setia, president of the All India Rice Exporters’ Association.
If India does agree another tranche of exports, they will be just a drop in the ocean but could be well timed. Top suppliers Thailand and Vietnam together normally ship out around 17 million tonnes of the staple per year.But the Thai government has doubled the amount it will pay domestic farmers from November, which could push export prices up as high as $870 per tonne, making them uncompetitive.
From / Gulf Today