After 20 years, India to import rice
New Delhi: India, a traditional rice exporter, will import the grain for the first time in 20 years to meet a projected shortfall of the crop hit by drought and floods, government said on Wednesday.
Mukherjee, who heads the Empowered Group of Ministers on foodgrains, however, did not reveal the quantum and the timing of imports.
"Exactly what quantum and at what time, I can't say," he said on the sidelines of a Union Bank of India function here.
The government estimates that there would be a shortfall of over 15 million tonnes in the 2009-10 Kharif (summer) season due to drought and floods in several states.
According to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), India, the second largest rice producer in the world, may import as much as 2,00,000 tonnes of rice if there is greater price parity to meet domestic demand.
Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma, who is a member of the EGoM, said yesterday that the government was in talks with top rice-exporting countries like Thailand for buying the staple grain without involving the private traders.