NEW DELHI - India may lose global leadership in the rice market in 2013 as shipments are likely to slide by 30 per cent to 7 million tonnes due to weak prices and surplus grain in Thailand, according to government advisory body CACP.

India had emerged as the world's largest rice exporter in 2012 beating its Asian counterpart Thailand with shipment of around 10 million tonnes. The country was at the third slot in 2011, it said.  "I feel India should not be exporting more than 7 million tonnes this year," Commission for Agriculture Costs and Prices (CACP) Chairman Ashok Gulati told PTI.

Rice shipments from the country could slowdown because of shrinking export profit margin, he said. "Our margins would take a hit with rise in the minimum support price of paddy and if global prices weaken due to aggressive exports from Thailand and Vietnam," Gulati said.

The world rice market is 35 million tonnes. Shipments from Thailand are expected to rise as the country has surplus stock of 12 million tonnes of the grain, he added. On wheat, the CACP chief said India is expected to double exports to 7-8 million tonnes in 2013, as against an estimated 4m tonnes last year. 

"Wheat exports were 2.9 million tonnes during January-September of 2012. Expecting another 1 million tonnes export to undertake during fag end of last year, taking total wheat export to 4 million tonnes," Gulati said.

Sufficient domestic supply and better global prices would prompt private players to aggressively export wheat this year, while more stocks from central pool can be shipped if the government acts quickly, he said. In September, government lifted the ban on rice and wheat exports after it was convinced that the central pool has sufficient stocks to meet the demand of PDS and the proposed food security bill.

India has sufficient rice and wheat stocks due to bumper output. Last year, their output was at record 104.32 million tonnes and 93.90 million tonnes, respectively.