It is unlikely that the Chinese will take to biryani easily with chopsticks but the government’s decision to finally allow the import of Basmati rice from India will add to the increasing trade between the two countries.
After nearly six years of waiting and careful scrutiny of a 100-page dossier about the rice, the go- ahead from the Chinese government finally came on April 13. The first consignment of Indian Basmati is expected to land in China – the biggest market for rice in the world – later this year.
Discussions on the issue began in 2006. “As per requirement, we submitted details about Basmati like assessments about its quality and pests. The General Administration of Quarantine, Supervision and Inspection went through the details,” K Nagaraj Naidu, Counsellor (Trade & Commerce) In 2009, Chinese scientists and officials visited Basmati growing sites in north Indian states. They checked whether standard operating procedures were followed to ensure that processing and storage houses were free from pests.
But the final decision got delayed.
The issue was raised during a bilateral meeting January 2010 and again in February 2012 before the nod came earlier this month.
Now, the ministry of agriculture in India has to issue a quality certificate. Subsequently, a meeting between Indian exporters and Chinese importers is likely to be held in China to thrash out the modalities of trade.
India will face competition from Pakistan, which already exports Basmati to China.”Pakistani Basmati is cheaper but India has a lead in South Asia in Basmati trade,” Naidu added.
China will not be an easy market to break into because the type of rice popular here is the sticky variety easy to maneuver with chop sticks. “The good thing is that people here are experimenting more with food now. Indian food is also becoming popular. Also, 500000 Indians come to China; initially, five star hotels, the expat community and Indian students will targetted,’’ the Indian diplomat said.