Kolkata: Rice exports to Bangladesh have come to a standstill as truck movement between the neighbours has been halted, even as Gulf nations are placing more orders for the basmati rice variety.

Bangladesh imports basmati rice from Punjab and Haryana, and GI-tagged aromatic Gobindobhog rice from Bengal.

“This is the time when Bangladesh imports basmati from India for making biryani during Ramadan,” Suraj Agarwal, CEO of Tirupati Agri Trade, told ET. “They also buy lot of Gobindobhog rice from Bengal. But, since trucks are not moving between the two countries, exports have completely come to a standstill.”

Rice prices inched up 10-15% during the lockdown on increased demand. In Bengal, the largest producer of the grain, only 25 -30% of rice mills are operating due to labour shortage.

Gulf nations are, however, placing orders for basmati and are ready to pay in cash. Movement of basmati rice through Kandla and Mundra ports has eased, although non-availability of packaging material is delaying exports.

Exporters have received new orders from the Gulf and the EU in the last one week. “Demand has gone up in GCC countries, particularly in Saudi Arabia. Cambodia, too, is showing good demand,” said Gautam Miglani, owner of Haryana-based LRNK, a leading rice exporter.

Prices of Pusa-1121 basmati have gone up from ₹60-61 per kg before the lockdown to ₹65-66 per kg now.

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