Business Standard

Asia Rice: India rates scale four-month peak on rising procurement costs


By Arpan Varghese
BENGALURU (Reuters) - Rice export prices in India rose for a second straight week to the highest in four months on higher procurement costs for paddy, while Thai rates eased with no fresh demand in sight.
Top exporter India's 5 percent broken parboiled variety was quoted around $378-$384 per tonne this week, up from last week's $375-$382.
The central state of Chhattisgarh, a leading rice producer, recently raised minimum paddy buying price to 2,500 rupees per 100 kg from 1,750 rupees earlier.
Demand is negligible due to higher prices and as most traders are on vacation, said an exporter based at Kakinada in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh.
Meanwhile, neighbouring Bangladesh, which became a major rice importer in 2017 after floods depleted domestic stocks, has dropped a plan to buy 700,000 tonnes of the staple in the year to June 2019, a food ministry official said.
"We had kept a budget for imports of 700,000 tonnes as a precaution, but fortunately, we won't need to go for international markets as production improved this year."
The country's production for 2018/19 is expected to recover to 34.7 million tonnes, up 6.3 percent year-on-year, according to estimates from the U.S. Department of Agriculture attache in Bangladesh.
In Thailand, benchmark 5-percent broken rice prices eased to $380-$390 per tonne, free on board Bangkok, from $390-$391 last week, due to the lack of fresh demand in the market, which is expected to remain quiet until after the new year period, traders said.
While the December-January period is usually the rice harvest season, this year, there has been a delay in harvesting in some parts of the country, a trader in Bangkok said.
"Supply will gradually increase in early February and that could push down the price further if there is no fresh demand."
In Vietnam, rates for 5 percent broken rice were unchanged at $385 a tonne.
"Trade is very slow amid the holiday season and I think it won't pick up until March, when output of the winter-spring crop is available," said a trader based in Ho Chi Minh City.
"Though domestic inventory is nearly empty, I don't think price can go up in the short term due to weak demand. It may even go down in the coming months due to China's move to limit shipments from Vietnam."
Vietnam's rice shipments to China in the first 11 months of this year fell 40 percent from a year earlier to 1.3 million tonnes, state media reported, citing Nguyen Ngoc Nam, chairman of Vietnam Food Association.
China has put a cap on the number of Vietnamese companies eligible to export rice to China at 21, and Vietnam is asking China to add more firms to the list, reported the Nong Nghiep Vietnam newspaper.
(Reporting by Panu Wongcha-um in Bangkok, Khanh Vu in Hanoi, Ruma Paul in Dhaka and Rajendra Jadhav in Mumbai; Editing by Louise Heavens)

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First Published: Dec 27 2018 | 6:00 PM IST

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