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Briefing reporters about the outcome of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's meeting with his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao on the sidelines of the Rio+20 Environment Summit here, Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai said that Indian rice exports to China will commence soon.
The two neighbouring countries have mutually sorted out the issues concerning quarantine protocol paving the way for export of premium basmati rice.
India is the world's second largest rice producer after China. But, basmati rice is grown only in India and Pakistan. India exported 2.4 million tonnes of basmati rice last fiscal, out of total output of 3.5 million tonnes.
In September last year, the Indian government permitted export of non-basmati rice. Since then, over 5 million tonnes of non-basmati rice has been shipped.
Chinese authorities have given the green light for Indian exports of basmati rice after a long and taxing 6-year process. Negotiations on the issue of rice exports were on since 2006, when President Hu Jintao visited India.
It took another visit from Hu six years later, when he travelled to New Delhi last month for the BRICS Summit in April, to give the final push to a long-running process.
Reacting to the development, All India Rice Exporters' Association President Mohender Pal Jindal hailed the decision, but said it would take time to establish export market for Indian basmati rice due to language barrier.
In the first year, Jindal expects that a small quantity of about 5,000 tonnes of basmati rice can be shipped to China.
He said there is no scope for non-basmati rice export as China is a big rice producer and they prefer sticky rice.
Stating that Pakistan is currently supplying basmati rice to China in small quantity, Jindal said: "Indian basmati rice would have an edge over Pakistan as our rice is better".
India is exporting basmati rice at a minimum rate of USD 1,000 per tonne, mainly to middle-east countries.