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Rice exports to gather steam on weak rupee

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NEW DELHI: The weakening rupee has made Indian rice more competitive globally and exporters feel that such a trend would help them expand markets.

“The exports have been good so far. The currency depreciation has made Indian rice more competitive, ” said Mr Vijay Setia, President of All India Rice Exporters Association. However, the weak currency is not a good sign in the long run.
Since the beginning of the current financial year, the rupee has depreciated 5.5 per cent against the dollar. Since June 2011 till date, the rupee depreciation is about 19 per cent against the dollar.
The Government re-opened exports of non-basmati varieties in September last after a gap of almost four years on rising stocks. Aggressive shipment by exporters helped India emerge as the largest exporter. However, the country is yet to regain its markets in some countries of Africa from rivals Thailand and Vietnam.
“With prediction of normal monsoons, we hope the export momentum will be sustained this year too,” Mr Setia said, without commenting on volumes.
Total shipments during 2011-12, including of the basmati variety, are estimated at around 6.75 million tonnes. This includes 2.5 million tonnes of basmati rice and non-basmati shipments accounting for the rest.
The reputation of India being an unreliable supplier in the global market, largely on account of the Government's inconsistent export policy, is hurting the country's prospects. The rush to ship rice after resumption of exports in September last has hurt the pricing to an extent.
“Indian rice is getting at least $100 a tonne less compared with our competitors. We need a better marketing plan,” Mr Setia said. Indian non-basmati rice is being exported at $350-450 a tonne.
Non-basmati from South India is mainly exported to all major African countries. The superior non-basmati varieties from North India are mainly exported to Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Yemen, he said.

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