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Covid fallout: Basmati orders dwindle over rising freight rates

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In FY21, India had exported 13.08 million tonnes of non-basmati rice compared with 5.05 million tonnes in FY20.As Covid-19 infections surge in the country, basmati exporters say orders are dwindling over rising freight rates and concerns that the virus may spread through consignments.

“Hardly any new orders are coming from the overseas markets. Unless the Covid situation improves in the country, we do not see good movement of basmati rice to the global markets,” Nathi Ram Gupta, president of All India Rice Exporters’ Association (AIREA), told ET.

India had shipped 4.63 million tonnes of basmati rice in FY21 and 4.45 million tonnes in FY20.

Gurnam Arora, joint managing director of Kohinoor Foods, said rising shipping cost is also a major concern for buyers.

Arora said the situation was improving after the country went through the first wave of Covid-19. But the second wave of infections has impacted the export business in a significant way.

“It’s not that the export has come to a complete halt. Very few orders are coming and exporters are trying to meet those orders. But there is a lot of fear among the international buyers over rising Covid cases in India,” said Arora. “With the significant rise in freight rates, we see buyers adopting a wait-and-watch stance. As a result, there is a slower start in shipments since the beginning of the current financial year.”


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