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India rice exports surge 22% after Bangladesh ramps up purchase

The boost in shipments from the world's top exporter of the grain is set to extend into 2018

Reuters  |  Mumbai | Dhaka 

rice, rice industry

India's rice exports likely jumped 22 per cent in 2017 to a record 12.3 million tonnes as neighbouring ramped up purchases after flooding hit its crops, industry officials told Reuters.

The boost in shipments from the world's top exporter of the grain is set to extend into 2018 as and continue to buy aggressively amid depleting inventories in No.2 exporter Thailand, the officials said.

"was actively buying throughout 2017. It offset the impact of slightly weaker demand from African countries," said M. Adishankar, executive director at Sri Lalitha, a leading rice exporter located in the southern Indian state of

Bangladesh's purchases likely lifted India's non-rice exports by 38 per cent in 2017 to 8.4 million tonnes and total exports to 12.3 million tonnes, the officials and exporters said. That would surpass 2014's record of 11.5 million tonnes.

They based the 2017 export figures on their estimates for December shipments plus previously issued government data for January to November. Government numbers for December are expected to be released around the start of next month.

exports non-rice mainly to African and Asian countries and premium rice to the Middle East, the United States and Britain.

Traditionally the world's fourth-biggest rice producer, emerged as a major importer of the grain in 2017 after floods damaged crops and pushed domestic prices to record highs.

sourced more than 80 per cent of its 2017 imports of 2.4 million tonnes from India, said Badrul Hasan, head of Bangladesh's state grains buyer.

The South Asian nation's overseas rice purchases are likely to remain robust until supply rises after its summer crop, also known as Boro, in May, Hasan said.

Boro contributes more than half Bangladesh's typical annual rice output of around 35 million tonnes.

Last year reduced import taxes on rice to boost private buying. It also bought rice from in state-to-state deals to quickly raise supplies and try to rein in prices.

But rice prices stayed high in despite the largest imports in nearly two decades, which will encourage farmers to expand the amount of land used to cultivate the staple crop, Hasan said.


India's rice exports in 2018 depend largely on non-shipments as exports are likely to remain more-or-less steady at around 4 million tonnes, said Vijay Setia, president of the All Rice Exporters' Association.

"Non-exports depend on stock positions in importing countries like and Sri Lanka," Setia said.

African nations stepped up buying from last year, but that could ease in 2018 as state stockpiles are depleted in the Southeast Asian country, potentially boosting appetite for Indian supply, said a Mumbai-based dealer with a global trading firm.

"For key like and Sri Lanka, has freight advantage over This will help even in 2018," the Mumbai-based dealer said.

First Published: Wed, January 10 2018. 16:28 IST