India's share in Saudi rice import stands at 63 percent with the basmati rice much in-demand, said the the head of the Indian delegation from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, which is in Riyadh to participate in the ongoing international agriculture and agro-industry trade show, in which India is the largest participating country with 40 companies.
“Sixty three percent of rice import to Saudi Arabia comes from India with the Indian basmati much in demand,” said the Indian official.
The government is keen to increase export of basmati rice by providing assistance to Indian exporters with mounting trade delegations abroad and participation in international fairs, the official stated.
India, the largest supplier of rice to the Kingdom, is also getting more orders as Indian companies have renewed their efforts to fulfill the ever increasing demand from the Gulf country, which is one of the world’s largest rice importer.
Rice is a major staple food of the people in the Kingdom with an average annual per capita consumption of about 43 kg. The country is dependent on rice imports to meet its growing requirements.
According to statistics provided by the commerce and Industry ministry of India, the country's basmati rice export to the Kingdom till April-May this year was 138,704 million tons valued at $171.15 million, whereas the export of non-basmati rice during the same period was 22629.83 tons with its value to the tune of $13.58 million.
Rehan Zaheer, a top official from the Indian ministry of food processing industry urged Saudi businessman and agriculture companies to invest in India's food processing sector, especially in rice and meat processing.
He, however, clarified that India does not allow direct investment in farmlands.
India recently relaxed foreign direct investment (FDI) norms in a number of key sectors, including food processing and agro-based industries as the hike in caps with liberalizing routes will stimulate FDI inflows into the country.
Ajit Kumar, a high official from the Indian ministry of commerce and industry said that Saudi Arabia was an important market for Indian rice, especially basmati, and one of the largest market in GCC countries in terms of productivity.
“We look forward to the Saudi market for our services in value added products,” he said.
"There is a huge opportunity to look at food processing industry and we are looking forward to the growing demand of the industry,” he added.
He also disclosed that a Saudi delegation including some senior officials of the Saudi Food and Drug Authority will visit India this year to check the conditions of abattoir in order to grant licenses for meat processing in the Kingdom's interest.
Apart from rice, major Indian products being exported to Saudi Arabia include buffalo, sheep and goat meat, as well as fresh and preserved fruits and vegetables, confectionery and other processed foods that will be showcased at the Indian pavilion in the agro-industry trade show.
The four-day agro-food exhibition at Riyadh International Convention Center, features a dedicated Indian pavilion comprising 40 companies.
The pavilion will showcase export products from India’s major companies, which include APEDA represented by its General Manager S.S. Nair, Nutrilite agro products Pvt Ltd., Indian food tech Ltd. and Kabir foods apart from the ministries of food processing and commerce and industry.
India Trade Promotion Organization (ITPO), the premier trade promotion agency of the government of India, has organized India's participation in the India pavilion.