India has emerged as the world’s biggest exporter of rice piping traditional leader Thailand by exporting almost nine million tonnes of rice in 2012, a latest report by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said. However, going forward in 2013, the trend might be difficult to sustain as Thailand is once again pushing to expand its exports by lowering rates in the international markets. India allowed its private traders to export rice in 2011 lifting a more than two year-long ban on exports. The move enabled private traders to push Indian rice in traditional as well as new markets at a price which was much lower than the prevailing rates, thereby leading to a surge in exports.
FAO also said India would have record exportable cereal surplus of almost 15.7 million tonnes in 2012-13, which will include 7.7 million tonnes of rice, about five million tonnes of wheat and three million tonnes of corn. In the 2011-12 crop marketing season that ended in July, India had an all-time high wheat production of 94 million tonnes, rice output of 104 million tonnes and corn (maize) production of almost 16.22 million tonnes. However, much of this has not been exported as the government has purchased almost all the rice and wheat, leaving little surplus for private exporters to sell. Lately, government has also started liquidating its inventories to create more space for the new harvest. It has approved export of two million tonnes of wheat and another 2.5 million tonnes is in the pipeline.
FAO said that planting of wheat and rice for the rabi season spring harvest is almost completed. Rainfall has been deficient to scanty in the producing states of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana in the north west, Bihar and West Bengal in the north east and Karnataka in the south, the agency wrote. Most of the wheat and paddy rice is irrigated this season, and abundant rains in the second part of the monsoon season helped replenish water reserves for irrigation and boost soil moisture, according to the report.