India has eased a three-year ban on overseas shipments of rice allowing export of three varieties of non-basmati rice.
But the exemptions would be given only if it fetches $850 a tonne.
A high-level ministerial panel headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee made the decisions yesterday. It also allowed export of the 'Rose' variety of onion.
Meanwhile, Indian Food Minister KV Thomas assured visiting Bangladeshi Food Minister Abdur Razzaque of exporting three lakh tonnes of non-basmati rice to Bangladesh soon.
The assurance came after the two held a meeting last evening here.
"The minister [Thomas] has assured that India will supply the rice as soon as possible. It will be on government-to-government basis supplied from Food Corporation of India," Razzaque said.
India had allowed export of non-basmati rice to Bangladesh in August 2010 despite a ban on exports.
Although the Indian government now fights a food inflation of over 17 percent, an Empowered Group of Ministers (EGOM) decided to allow exports up to 1.50 lakh tonnes of select varieties.
The three varieties exempted from export ban are Ponni Samba, Rosematta and Sona Masuri grown in the southern states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.
"Adequate quantities are there in these states," Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma told reporters after the EGOM meeting. For rest of the varieties, the export ban continues, Sharma said.
Buoyed by bumper production estimates this year, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar favoured export of certain commodities like non-basmati rice, sugar and onion to protect the interests of farmers.
Citing the case of onion, Pawar said farmers, who were crying over crashing onion prices, should be helped to recover the cultivation cost and for that "if limited export is allowed… I think that will resolve the farmers' problem."
"A situation may arise that onion export could be allowed with some cap on quantity", Pawar said.
Asked if the government will permit sugar export, he said "let the commerce ministry and others assess the situation. One has to see how we will be able to protect the interest of our own consumers first and after that if there is surplus availability, then one can think [of export]."
He said the international market was favourable for sugar export.