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First consignments of rice enter Aizawl godowns; FCI plans to import from Myanmar remains in limbo

Ahead of the six month railway mega-block that will cut off vital supplies to two North-Eastern states, the first consignment of rice enter Aizawl godowns..

The local contractor awarded the task of supplying rice to Mizoram during the six month railway mega-block that will cut off vital supplies to two North-Eastern states and parts of one other, began ferrying in the first batch of 5000 quintals into the state’s main godown on Thursday.

Lalrindika, head of Rem Rem Enterprises, the contractor, said he is also currently in talks with three rice merchants in Mandalay city, Myanmar, as the government attempts the first import of rice from Asia’s erstwhile rice bowl in several decades. The first consignments have been brought from other Indian states thus far.

“We approached the Myanmar central government in Naypyidaw some weeks ago and have been directed to a handful of rice exporters in Mandalay who are currently supplying rice to China,” Lalrindika said, adding he is biased towards importing the mobi variety, a slightly sticky variety of rice in Myanmar that he believes Mizoram residents would most prefer.

He said he may also import some izamin and posan varieties, the former a long-grained rice that is considered the most popular in the neighbouring country.

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The Mizoram government had a week ago roped in Rem Rem Enterprises to ferry in 30,000 quintals of rice to alleviate the expected shortage as a result of the gauge conversion work on the North-East Frontier Railways’ Lumding-Silchar route, the normal route taken by Food Corporation of India to supply rice to Mizoram, Tripura and south Assam’s Barak Valley. Roughly 70% of the consignments are transported through this train service while the rest are trucked.

Given the expected rise in the cost of supplying all the rice consignments to these areas by road, the Centre begun shipping in rice to Tripura using a port in Bangladesh, and plans were afoot to import rice for Mizoram from Myanmar, which would work out cheaper than continuing to supply rice to the remote state from Punjab and Haryana.

But the FCI’s tender for rice imports fell through earlier this month because the bids were higher than the corporation expected, and with no new tender being released so far, the Mizoram government went ahead and roped in locals to ferry the rice from Myanmar as well as other parts of India. The contract is initially for 30,000 quintals with a caveat that it can be extended or stopped after that after a review of the work.

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This first 30,000 quintals, the contractor said, would be ferried in by mid-November.

“We have had experience importing rice from Myanmar even in the past, mostly smaller consignments from Chin State (the Myanmar province closest to Mizoram). Importing from Mandalay would not be much of a problem either. The companies there will ferry it till the Zokhawthar border-trade facility and we would ferry it to godowns in Aizawl,” Lalrindika said.

First published on: 30-10-2014 at 12:36:26 pm
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