Rice exports to Bangladesh via West Bengal likely to commence soon
Rice exports to Bangladesh through West Bengal will likely begin soon as the ministry of home affairs (MHA) has taken a tough stand against the state government for not allowing border trade with India’s eastern neighbour. MHA has asked the state chief secretary to immediately allow transportation of essentials through land ports on the Indo-Bangladesh border. Traders said that trucks loaded with rice are stuck at the border, causing daily losses to the freight companies.
“The trucks are waiting at the Bangladesh border for quite some time now. Despite the MHA order, the movement of trucks is stalled,” said Suraj Agarwal, chief executive officer of Tirupati Agri Trade. “Now we are hearing that from May 20, exports between the two countries through the Petrapole-Benapole border may begin.” Bangladesh imports basmati rice from Punjab and Haryana and the GI-tagged Gobindobhog and other types of rice from West Bengal.
Although exports through the land route have come to a halt, basmati rice has started to reach Bangladesh through the sea route. “Rice is going from Mundra port to Chittagong port through sea route,” said Angshu Mallick, deputy chief executive officer of Adani Wilmar. Farmers in West Bengal are also waiting for exports to Bangladesh to begin as prices of rice have fallen in the past one month.
Subrata Mondol, secretary of Rice Mill Association of Burdwan, said: “Since the state government has decided to give free ration for six months due to the outbreak of Covid-19, the price of rice has fallen. The common swarna masoori rice that was available at Rs 27 per kg a month ago has dropped to Rs 24 per kg. Similarly, minikit rice which was available at Rs 45 a kg a few days ago is now selling at Rs 36 per kg. Prices will firm up if exports begin to Bangladesh.”
However, the rice trade is facing an unusual problem. Unseasonal rains are damaging the boro paddy crop, which is being harvested now. West Bengal produces 15-16 million tonnes of paddy annually in three seasons which include aus, aman and boro. The kharif paddy (aus and aman) output accounts for about 70% of the total production in the state.