Traders expect India to lift rice export ban

Traders expect India to lift rice export ban

Dubai: India should be able to lift the ban on non-basmati rice imports this year as a bumper crop is expected due to a positive outlook on monsoon rain, traders said on Tuesday.

India, the world’s second largest exporter of rice after Thailand banned exports of non-basmati rice in 2008, as high prices of the grain put pressure on domestic supply.

“India should come online this year as the harvest is expected to be good because of the rain," said Tunji Owoeye, managing director of Elephant Group, a rice trading firm based in Nigeria.

Global rice trade is estimated at around 30 million tonnes, out of which India potentially supplies 25.3 million tonnes, almost meeting the world’s rice demand for a year, traders said on the sidelines of an industry conference in Dubai.

Some Indian traders are concerned that if the government fails to lift the ban this year Pakistan might gain a larger market share as most of the country’s crop is exported.

“The government has to hurry up and lift the export ban because right now we have Pakistan competing and they are gaining on what used to be India’s market share," said Ashutosh Sharma, director of Duli Sons, a Mumbai based rice trading firm.

Excess supply in the market this year had also put pressure on traders to sell their carry over from last year at lower prices, said Elephant Group’s Owoeye.

“Because supply was tighter last year the average price of non-basmati was around $500 per tonne and this year its $400 so like other trading firms we made a loss over our carry over from last year," he said.

“I expected that the price will slide further this year and harvest looks good everywhere so far."