Slowing shipments from the world's biggest rice exporter could allow rivals like Thailand and Vietnam to raise supplies in the short term, and also carries the potential to push up global prices.
Higher output by the world's biggest rice exporter could dampen domestic prices and make exports more competitive, compensating for lower supplies from rivals Thailand and Vietnam.
"Procurement at MSP is underway. It will continue in the coming days as well. Those who want to create confusion and play politics, I request them to do it on other issues," Tomar said.
It may be noted that sowing of rice and other kharif crops is being undertaken amid the COVID-19 lockdown. Although farm activities are exempted from lockdown rules, the reasons are not known yet for slow area coverage under rice.
These are among the first forecasts for rice exports during the new fiscal year that began on April 1. Higher shipments from India, the world's biggest rice exporter, could cap global prices and help New Delhi in reducing bulging inventories.
Cyclone Amphan, which pounded eastern India and Bangladesh on Wednesday, damaged crops on 176,000 hectares in Bangladesh, Agriculture Minister Abdur Razzaque said.
Demand for Indian rice from Asian and African buyers has been slowly improving as New Delhi is offering more competitive prices than Thailand, said an exporter based at Kakinada in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.
Rice traders earlier this month resumed signing new export contracts, after a gap of nearly three weeks as the government adopted stiff restrictions to curb the spread of the virus.
"After all, when will India's poor wake up? You are dying of hunger and they are busy cleaning the hands of the rich by making sanitizers from your portion of rice," he said in a tweet in Hindi.
India must revamp its food grain storage techniques, modernise its mandis and expand the capacity of cold chains without any further delay
A lockdown on the movement of people to contain the spread of the coronavirus has raised fears that farmers will be unable to plough their fields and sow crops.
Rice exports totalled 908,492 tonnes in January, down from 1.03 million tonnes a year earlier, according to data compiled by the ministry of commerce and industry.
India's 5 percent broken parboiled variety was quoted around $370-$375 per tonne this week, the highest since the last week of September.
The south Asian country's exports stood at 9.87 million tonnes in 2019, the lowest since 2011, and down from 12.05 million tonnes in 2018, according to data compiled by the ministry of commerce and industry.
Basmati rice exports to Iran, New Delhi's top buyer of the aromatic grain, dropped to 600,000 tonnes in the eight months from 900,000 tonnes a year earlier, but traders, worried about delayed payments, have not signed any new contracts with Tehran in the past five days, the sources said.
The slight upturn was because of a strong rupee, which trims exporters' margins from overseas sales, though demand remains weak, said one exporter based at Kakinada in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh.
'Paddy rice prices have been rising as farmers are demanding the minimum support price,' said an exporter based at Kakinada in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh.
India's rice exports in October fell 42% year-on-year to 485,898 tonnes, government data showed on December 5, due to weak demand from African countries for non-basmati varieties.
Smaller shipments from India could help rivals such as Thailand, Vietnam and Myanmar to increase their exports, according to Indian exporters.
In a written reply to the Lok Sabha, Minister of State for Food Danve Raosaheb Dadarao said about 8.99 lakh tonnes of wheat and 6.06 lakh tonnes of rice has been sold through the open market sale scheme (OMSS) till November 20 of this year.
Paddy rice prices have been trading below the government-set purchase price of 1,835 rupees per 100kg in many spot markets because of weak export demand, he said.
"Export of rice (basmati and non-basmati) to European Union (EU) countries will require certificate of inspection from Export Inspection Council/Export Inspection Agency with immediate effect," directorate general of foreign trade has said in a notification.
The CCEA has approved the MSPs of all rabi (winter-sown) crops for the 2019-20 crop year (July-June) as recommended by the government's farm price advisory body CACP, the sources added.
India's rice exports in August fell 29% year-on-year to 644,249 tonnes due to weak demand from African countries for non-basmati rice, among other factors.
India is the world's biggest rice exporter but its shipments have plunged 27% in the first five months of the 2019/20 financial year, starting on April 1, to 3.8 million tonnes, the data showed.