China permits Indian basmati rice imports

Beijing: China has for the first time allowed imports of basmati rice from India. Welcoming the decision, Embassy officials, however, said it would be a tough task for Indian traders to penetrate into Chinese market dominated by Thai varieties and to some extent Pakistani aromatic rice. Indian Ambassador to China S Jaishankar said, "It is a very positive move by China."

"We are in touch with basmati producers back home to see how to take this forward," he told PTI reacting to China formally granting permission for Indian exports of basmati rice. The Indian Embassy plans to conduct a publicity campaign to push basmati rice into the Chinese markets. The diplomats here regard it as a diplomatic success considering that Beijing was found dithering ever since New Delhi formally sought an opening for India`s top rice in 2006.

The approval came after passing through testing procedures of the Chinese official bodies. In its absence, Pakistani basmati rice is widely used by star hotels and Indian restaurants which have come up in big numbers all over China — the world`s largest rice market. Islamabad had no such problem in securing permission earlier to market its aromatic rice taking advantage of the strategic friendship with China.

K Nagraj Naidu, Trade Consular of the Indian Embassy, said that it is a challenge to enter the market here as Chinese eat sticky (glutinous) rice which is easy to take it with chop sticks. "Not only basmati is a new variety but also it has to take along with spoon," Naidu said. It is not going to be easy to penetrate the market and efforts would have to be made to introduce India`s aromatic rice in a big way, Naidu said.