India is gearing up to send a delegation, which will include government officials and exporters, to Iran to protect its big basmati rice market on January 27-29, said Mr. Mohinder Pal Jindal, President of All India Rice Exporters Association (AIREA). He said the industry is hopeful that Iran will lift the ban on basmati rice imports from India that has been in place for the past four months. Since the lifting of economic sanctions by the West, Iran has seen a spurt in trading ties with a large number of countries. India is keen to quell any concerns over the quality of its basmati rice even as Iran has strict pre-shipment quality checks for all imports.
A government official, who did not wish to be identified said, “We have to counter other countries’ efforts because our share in Iran’s imports has fallen drastically.” Iran, which has been one of the largest importers of Indian basmati rice in recent years, has almost halved its basmati rice imports from India in 2015-16 to $571 million from $1.1 billion in the previous financial year. In the first half of this fiscal, basmati rice exports from India to Iran amounted to $356 million. “We need to promote exports of basmati rice in Iran especially because other countries are aggressively promoting their varieties of rice,” said another official.
While speaking to Riceoutlook magazine, Mr. Rajen Sundaresan, Executive Director, All India Rice Exporters Association (AIREA), said that Iran has around 67 rice exporters from India on its list. He explained that every importer in Iran must submit the details of the importer to its government, from whom he wishes to buy. The government then assigns an agency to inspect all the parameters pertaining to the quality, hygiene and food safety before issuing a permit for rice exports. He further said, “We need to dispel rumours about basmati rice which are being made by parties with vested interest. Iran is a stable but important market for us. They have not opened the permits for imports till now though this should have happened in November.” Iran has a permit system of imports. However, no major consignment has been shipped from India in the past six months. India is the leading exporter of basmati rice, having shipped 4.05 Million Metric Tonnes (MMT) of the aromatic long grain basmati rice worth Rs 22,718.44 Crores in 2015-16. The industry pegs exports to Iran at 1 MMT.