India is going to import one lakh tonnes of rice from Myannmar to avoid supply crisis in Manipur and Mizoram as the construction work is going on the railway line connecting these two north-eastern states to other parts of the country.
In this regard, the government will float a exploratory tender on September 8 to evaluate market prices.
This will be the first time in almost three decades the country will import rice and that via road.
According to sources, 20,000 tonnes of rice will be imported per month starting October and tenders are likely to be floated by the State Trading Enterprises (STEs) on behalf of Food Corporation of India (FCI).
Despite having sufficient stocks, the government has to import rice as the work is going on to broadgauge the railway line between Lumding and Silchar in Assam, sources said adding this route connects Manipur and Mizoram to the rest of the country.
To meet the requirements of these states, which have deficient paddy production, the FCI will have to move the grains via road ranging 400-600 kms.
"There is only one national highway 44 from Guwahati, which connects with these states, and moving grains via road is challenging because of hilly terrains and land-slide prone areas," a source said.
Considering all these aspects, there is a need to have supplementary stock to avoid any supply crisis in these areas, therefore it has been decided to import rice from Myannmar, which is well connected via road to Manipur and Mizoaram, sources said. Moreover, the neighbouring country also has surplus stocks, they added.
These North-Eastern states have deficient paddy production and in order to meet the requirement, FCI moves rice mainly from Punjab and Chattisgarh to Guwahati in Assam and from there to other parts in the region.
As on August 16, the country had 184.62 lakh tonnes of rice against the buffer stock of 72 lakh tonnes on October 1 this year. In addition to this, 74 lakh tonnes of unmilled paddy is also available in the country.