US-Iran tensions, coronavirus to pull down rice exports by 20%: Report

The US-Iran standoff and the recent coronavirus outbreak in China are among factors which, it is thought, could pull down Indian rice exports by about a fifth this year.

Export of rice, especially basmati, to Iran was valued at $1.5 billion (about Rs 10,500 crore) in 2018-19. It accounts for 25-30 per cent of annual Indian rice shipment. Indian rice export had a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of nearly 14 per cent between 2010 and 2019. We account for a fourth of global rice export; it contributes two per cent to the overall Indian export basket.

However, goes a report by US-based trade finance company Drip Capital, rice export this year has fallen across the globe, with a major dip emerging from West Asia, due to geopolitical tensions. The report is based on analysis of proprietary data and on-ground conversation with exporters.

“YTD (year to date) export is so far looking bleak, with Iran, the biggest export market, seeing a 22 per cent fall in shipment,” said Drip Capital co-founder and co-chief executive, Pushkar Mukewar.

Devendra Vora, a Mumbai-based rice trader and exporter, said shipment to Iran had been tepid since October 2019 due to the US-Iran crisis, with no respite in sight.

“Annual rice export to Iran is to the tune of more than 10 million tonnes (mt). There is a strong possibility of these falling by almost 2 million tonnes,” he told Business Standard, adding traders holding  stocks were staring at a loss.

Kohinoor Foods joint managing director Gurnam Arora said since Iran was the major destination for Indian rice export, the siaution would certainly reflect in lower shipment, staitng: “I see a 20 per cent dip this year, given the adverse global market sentiments, accentuated now by the coronavirus outbreak and reflecting in slowing international trade.” Many other international markets for Indian rice, he added, had been down over several months. 

Haryana is India’s top basmati rice exporting state, with a CAGR of three per cent during 2016-19, shipping $2.4 billion in FY19. Gujarat was second in FY19, with $1.1 billion and a CAGR of 47 per cent during 2016-19. Other major contributors are Delhi, West Bengal and Andhra.

Arora suggests the central government discuss rice export with Brazil. “If it pushes the matter properly, there is a possibility of almost 1 million tonnes  of rice shipment; Brazil is a big consumer of food grain, including rice and wheat,” he said.

Around 40 per cent of the export takes place in the four months from December to March. The  UAE, Nepal, Yemen, Senegal and Bangladesh are other major destinations for Indian rice but have showed a dip in shipment this financial year. Export to some countries has seen some growth — Saudi Arabia (4 per cent), Iraq (10 per cent), Benin (8 per cent) and America (4 per cent).

Business Standard is now on Telegram.
For insightful reports and views on business, markets, politics and other issues, subscribe to our official Telegram channel