Kerala exporters appeal against rice export ban

Last Updated: Tue, Apr 01, 2008 14:27 hrs

Kochi (Kerala) April 1 : The Rice Exporters Association of Kerala office bearers will meet some central ministers in Delhi Wednesday to appeal against the ban on export of non-Basmati rice.

The ban was announced Monday by the central government.

Vinod Manjilas, director of export division of the Thrissur-based Manjila's Group, told IANS this is a huge blow to exporters from Kerala because, leaving aside seafood, rice constitutes nearly 60 percent of food items' exports from Kerala.

"On an average every year, close to 4,500 tonnes of rice is exported from here and of this, it is the 'Palakkadan Matta rice' that constitutes a major portion. Our brethren abroad will no longer be able to eat their favourite variety of rice," said Vinod.

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More than two million Keralites live outside India, of these close to 90 percent in the Middle East countries.

Palakkadan Matta rice and the Indian Basmati rice are the only two varieties of rice that recently received the 'geographical indication', a certification almost similar to that of a patent.

"The Palakkadan Matta variety is grown only in our state and nowhere else. The reason (for export ban) cited is to control prices, which appears strange. The end result would be that countries like Thailand and China would benefit and they would now take over the markets that we had a good hold on in the Middle East," said Vinod Manjilas.

State Agricultural Minister Mullakara Ratnakaran told reporters in Kannur Tuesday that the state government will put pressure on the centre to see that the ban on rice export is lifted.

"This is going to be a two-way loss for Kerala and Keralites. Firstly, Keralites abroad will not be able to eat their favourite variety of rice and secondly it is going to be a huge loss for the exporters. We will take this up with the centre. To control price rise, this is not the way they should have done it," said Ratnakaran.

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