The Chief Minister of West Bengal- Mamata Banerjee has requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to issue necessary instructions for extending an exemption of the customs duty on the export of the premium aromatic rice variety ‘Gobindbhog’ at the earliest.
The Gobindbhog rice variety holds cultural prominence as it is offered to the Almighty throughout the country and abroad. It is a prevalent premium rice, especially in Europe and gulf countries, and enjoys good demand and is thus lucrative.
In a move to boost domestic supplies, last month, the government of India imposed a 20 percent import duty on non-basmati rice except for parboiled rice. India also implemented restrictions on wheat export. These moves came into effect following a fall in the cropping area due to several rounds of heatwaves throughout the country and low rainfall. India is the largest rice exporter in the world and has a huge responsibility as multiple countries around the world depend on India to buy rice in bulk.
Just like the rice importers took a hit from the government’s move, the Indian Rice Exporters too got significantly affected.
“Pure Gobindobhog rice is grown in a few districts of West Bengal and it has been awarded Geographic identification on October 24, 2017. It fetches a much higher price than the MSP for rice. In our efforts since 2011 to enhance the income of our farmers, we have been promoting the production of this premium variety Gobindobhog in suitable areas substituting coarse grain rice,” the WB CM said in a letter.
She said that along with the extension of production in areas suitable for this premium variety of Gobindobhog rice, “we have also been encouraging its export to create sustained demand abroad for this premium variety.”
Gobindbhog Rice: Explainer
Gobindobhog is a type of rice cultivated mostly in West Bengal in India. It is a short grain, white, aromatic, sticky rice with a sweet buttery flavor. It derives its name from its usage as the principal ingredient in the preparation of the offerings to Govindaji, the family deity of the Setts of Kolkata.
Gobindobhog was traditionally cultivated in the districts of Bardhaman, Hooghly, Nadia, and Birbhum. Later, it began to be enabled in Bankura and Purulia.
The Chief Minister said that the major rice importers of Gobindobhog rice are the gulf region like Saudi Arabia, UAE, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, and others.
“Unfortunately, the Government of India has imposed a 20 percent Customs Duty on rice vide notification no. 49/2022 dated September 8, 2022. As a result of which the export business of the premium Gobindobhog variety, developed through years of efforts, has been badly affected with a negative impact on the demand and domestic price of the paddy and hence on the income of farmers,” said Banerjee.
She said that as Basmati has been exempted from the 20 percent customs duty, in a similar manner Gobindobhog rice should also be exempted from the 20 percent customs duty.
“It is appreciated that Basmati, another popular high-value aromatic rice variety has been exempted from the 20 percent Customs Duty. It is, therefore, requested on the same logic by which Basmati’ has been exempted, the premium aromatic variety Gobindobhog rice should also be exempted from such 20 percent Customs Duty on export at an early date to avoid loss of business and depriving benefit to our farmers,” the Chief Minister said.
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