Rice Exporters Suspend Strike, Basmati Purchase Begins Today
Haryana, India - October 20, 2023
In a significant development, rice exporters in Haryana have decided to suspend their ongoing strike and will commence the purchase of basmati paddy starting today. The decision comes following a crucial meeting with the Central Government in Delhi, which took place on Thursday evening. This move aims to bring relief to both the export industry and local farmers.
The exporters have expressed their optimism after receiving assurances from the government that their demands regarding the minimum export price (MEP) on basmati exports would be taken into consideration. The All India Rice Exporters Association (AIREA) has declared that they will closely monitor the government's upcoming stance on this matter and make a final decision during a general body meeting scheduled for October 27.
The strike had disrupted the procurement of basmati paddy in grain markets across Haryana, with approximately 1.44 lakh quintals of basmati paddy remaining unsold in various districts, according to data obtained from the Haryana State Agricultural Marketing Board (HSAMB). These unsold stocks included around 1.15 lakh quintals of the popular basmati-1509 variety and 28,569 quintals of other basmati varieties.
The exporters had gone on strike on October 15 to protest the government's decision to maintain the MEP control order on basmati exports at $1,200 per tonne. They argued that a range of basmati paddy varieties was being exported between $850 and $1,050 per tonne and demanded that the MEP be reduced to reflect the market realities.
Vijay Setia, former president of AIREA, stated, "Our delegation held a meeting with the Central Government. We have been assured that our demand of lowering the MEP will be considered. We have reviewed the situation in the grain markets and advised the members to start purchasing basmati paddy. The process will start from Friday. We are with farmers and do not want the farming community to suffer. The government should protect the interests of the rice exporters too."
Farmers had been reluctant to bring their basmati produce to the grain markets due to the strike and the uncertainty it brought to prices. In response, many had stored their produce at home or in fields. The price of the basmati-1509 variety had fallen by Rs 500-600 per quintal over the past 4-5 days.
The decision to suspend the strike and resume basmati procurement is expected to alleviate concerns among local farmers and bring a degree of stability to the rice export industry. The impending meeting on October 27 will be a pivotal moment, as it will determine the next course of action for both exporters and the government in addressing the MEP issue.
For now, the resumption of basmati purchase is seen as a positive step that will benefit not only the exporters but also the farming community and the region's agricultural economy as a whole.