Basmati exports gain momentum as Iran lifts seasonal ban on rice imports
Basmati shipments to Iran, India’s biggest buyer of aromatic rice, are expected to resume with reports the West Asian nation has lifted the seasonal ban on rice imports.
âAlthough there is no formal information yet, we learn that Iran has lifted seasonal restrictions on rice imports. We expect basmati shipments to accelerate in the coming months, although higher ocean freight rates and non-availability of containers remain a challenge, âsaid Vinod Kaul, executive director of the All India Rice Exporters Association.
Iran has traditionally imposed an annual seasonal ban on rice imports during its domestic harvest season from July to mid-November to protect its producers.
However, what could help Indian exporters this year is the fact that Iran may have had a lower than normal harvest, Kaul said.
In addition, the payment issues facing Indian exporters in the recent past have largely been resolved and trade is now conducted in the currency of a third party – the United Arab Emirates dirham (AED), a- he declared.
India’s basmati exports from April to August this year were hit by the container shortage and the sharp rise in freight rates, Kaul said.
The main problem is the availability of containers on time, Kaul said, adding that the shortage persists, while demand is near normal.
According to figures from APEDA, from April to August of this year, basmati shipments in terms of volume fell 16% to 1.7 million tonnes, from 2.03 million tonnes a year ago .
In terms of value, shipments fell 20% to $ 1.44 billion from $ 1.8 billion in the same period a year ago.
Commenting on the domestic production, Kaul said the production is good and the new crop is coming to the market.
New export markets
Exports are expected to gain momentum by March, traditionally the peak season for Indian basmati shipments, Kaul said.
During the current year, some Latin American countries have imported good quantities of Indian basmati.
âWe can say that new openings have come this year from Latin America. However, this will always remain a limited market as West Asia, which accounts for 72-80% of total basmati shipments, continues to be the mainstay, âhe added.
India exported 4.63 million tonnes of basmati rice worth $ 4.02 billion in 2020-21, compared to 4.45 million tonnes worth $ 4.37 billion during from the same period the previous year.