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India may corner nearly half of global rice trade as exports soar to record By Reuters


© Reuters. FILEPHOTO: On January 31, 2019, a worker gathers and spreads boiling rice for drying in a rice mill outside Kolkata. REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri/File Photo

By Rajendra Jadhav

KAKINADA, India (Reuters) – India could account for as much as 45% of global rice exports in 2021 as expanded port-handling capacity allows the world’s second largest rice grower after China to ship record volumes to buyers across Africa and Asia.

Nitin Gopta, Vice President, Olam India’s Rice business, stated that India could be the top rice exporter in the world, shipping 22 million tonnes more rice than all three of its closest competitors, Vietnam, Pakistan and Thailand.

“India is also buying from traditional buyers this year, including China, Vietnam, Bangladesh,” he stated.

India’s 2020 exports soared 49% to record 14.7million tonnes. Non-basmati rice shipments climbed 77% to record 9.7million tonnes.

India on course to dominate global rice trade in 2021 as new port capacity boosts shipment potential

In 2021, non-basmati rice shipments could nearly double from a year ago to 18 million tonnes, while premium basmati rice exports are seen steady at 4 million tonnes, Gupta said.

Global rice exports are projected to reach 48.5 millions tonnes according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture for 2021-22.


Indian rice has been consistently cheaper than supplies from Thailand and Vietnam since last March, while global demand for rice has scaled record highs.

India rice export prices sustain steep discount to Southeast Asian prices since early 2020

However, limited infrastructure at Kakinada Anchorage, India’s main rice port, led to persistent congestion and lengthy loading delays last year, prompting some buyers to switch suppliers.

Brahmananda Gaudimetla says that India had offered an additional $100 per ton discount over the other exporters. However, much of that discount was lost due to higher demurrage costs tied with the delays.

In February, Andhra Pradesh allowed rice shipment to a neighboring port in Kakinada. This was done in an attempt to ease congestion.

The vessel waiting time has decreased since the deepwater port began handling rice. B.V. Krishna Rao is the president of Rice Exporters Association of India. He said that demand for rice from India could have been transferred to other countries.

Provisional data from India’s commerce ministry shows that India exported 12.84 Million tonnes of rice over the first seven month of 2021. That is an increase of 65% compared to a year earlier.

M Muralidhar is the chief operating officer for Kakinada Seaports Ltd. He stated that at least one million tonnes would be shipped out of this deepwater port by 2021.


Despite extra port capacity, Kakinada’s loading rate still lags well behind Southeast Asian ports due to a lack of dedicated rice-handling infrastructure.

From the time the anchor is dropped, around 33,000 tonnes (or more) of rice takes Kakinada almost one month. It takes 11 days in Thailand for the same amount,” Fahim Shamsi says captioning a vessel that loaded rice at Kakinada earlier this month.

The strain at Kakinda has increased since the price of shipping rice via container rose, prompting rice shippers, according to Gupta, of Olam, to shift from bulk vessels to containers.

Rao indicated that Kakinada has the potential to export another 2 million tonnes of rice with improved infrastructure and a more automated process.

India exports non-basmati rice mainly to Africa and Asia, while premium basmati goes to the Middle East and the United States.