After business remained dull in March and April, the Inland Container Depot (ICD) of Indian railways’ subsdiary CONCOR, in Ngapur has recorded a 50% jump in export traffic, surpassing even pre-Covid times. This is only because of rice exports, said sources.
Mainly the thick-grain parboiled rice is exported from this region. The rise in exports has also led to an increase of Rs 50 to 75 a quintal in the domestic rates. A senior official in CONCOR said as against an average export of 2,000 containers in a month before Covid, the ICD here has clocked a volume of over 3,000 containers in May. The going continues to be strong in June.
Imports remain down by 50% but the increase in exports has balanced that, said the official. Rice grown in Vidarbha and Chhattisgarh has a market in West Africa and Russia. Sources said the pandemic has hit business in competing countries and even other domestic centres. This has brought exporters to Nagpur which is considered a safer centre to operate from.
Shipping agent Shiv Kumar Rao from R&Y Logistics said business was down in Vietnam and Thailand which are the other major rice exporters for the African market. The pandemic has hit operations in Mumbai and Visakhapatnam and other ports too. Due to these reasons, procurement and dispatch of consignments is now happening from Nagpur. Exporters have also increased their procurement from rice mills in central India compared to other parts of the country.
Umesh Motwani, the treasurer of Vidarbha Rice Millers Association, said Indian traders have an advantage of over $50 a tonne compared to rates offered in Thailand. As against of $500/tonne in Thailand, traders here are offering a rate of $410 to $425 for delivery at African ports. For Russia, it is $440to $450 a tonne till the port. The rice harvested in April and May has a major demand in Russia, he said.
The rates are expected to be higher in Thailand because unlike India the food industry has not been opened up entirely elsewhere. The logistics bottlenecks are expected to have led to the rates increase in other countries, he said.