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India requires a comprehensive rice strategy: Rating Agency

In its latest release rating agency Infomerics Valuation and Rating has indicated that despite some significant region-specific differences, generic factors, such as, government support in rice production, favorable monsoons, rising number of rice processing companies and increasing exports have positively impacted the Indian rice industry. The report added that there are three main risks for the rice sector in the country – container shortage, scanty rains and low MSP coverage. It said, around 25,000-30,000 containers were lying at ports because of disputes with Customs, etc. Basmati rice exports have been hit hard because 80 percent is routed through containers. Erratic rainfall could affect crop production. Farmers have planted hectares of land with rice this year with fears of scarce rainfall although the Indian Meteorological Department has forecast the country will receive normal monsoon rains in 2021. Report further reveals that insufficient MSP realization is reflected in paddy households selling their produce to the APMC reducing from 17 percent (2013) to 2.7 percent (2019) because of poor participation of private traders, low infrastructure, unawareness, etc. The report said that the paddy or rice production in India cannot be considered in silo; it is inextricably linked to the broader question of land rights and land ownership, food security, political stability, preservation of natural ecosystems and agricultural diversification. Stringent international food quality and safety standards of E.U., U.S., and Japan can help to enhance the quantity and quality of organic production.