Trade Guide

Global Grain Dispatch: Streamlining Rice Exportation and Shipping Processes

Rice Exportation and Shipping

Rice, scientifically known as Oryza, is a versatile crop capable of thriving in various conditions, ranging from dry uplands to flooded river beds. With its efficient air passage system, rice plants connect roots to shoots, facilitating adaptation to different environments. While primarily self-pollinated, cross-pollination occurs to some extent. The diversity of rice is immense, with over 85,000 varieties documented in research stocks and over 120,000 cultivars known. Despite efforts to classify them, no universally accepted system exists. Two primary cultivated species are Oryza sativa and Oryza glaberrima. This article will delve into a thorough examination of rice, covering its various types, the exportation process, and the intricacies of shipping, including documentation.

Types of Rice Cargoes

Rice varieties are broadly categorized into several types. Asian rice, Oryza sativa, is subdivided into two categories: Indica and Japonica, each including glutinous and non-glutinous varieties. Indica rice typically features longer, slender grains that remain separate when cooked, while Japonica varieties have shorter, stickier grains. Additionally, there’s glutinous rice, prized for its high amylopectin starch content, often used in confectionery.

Cultivation and Harvesting

Rice cultivation predominantly occurs in flooded fields called paddies, though dry cultivation methods exist. The growth cycle typically spans 100 to 210 days, with variations based on climate and variety. The cultivation process involves breaking and leveling the soil, nursery sowing, transplantation, and managing threats from pests and environmental factors. Controlled irrigation significantly enhances yields, with rice requiring substantial water per grain. Harvested rice, initially high in moisture content, must be dried to prevent spoilage.

Processing and Storage

Post-harvest, rice undergoes milling to remove husks and bran, resulting in polished white rice. Although brown rice retains more nutrients, white rice is more popular among consumers. Rice can be stored for extended periods in various conditions, from traditional pots to modern silos equipped with climate control mechanisms.

Trade and Quality Standards

Rice is traded in various forms, including paddy and milled rice, with descriptions indicating type, origin, and broken grain percentage. Electronic sorting machines ensure quality by classifying rice based on size, type, and color. Quality standards dictate permissible levels of imperfections like broken grains, ensuring consistency in grading across markets.

Composition and Nutritional Value

The composition and nutritional content of rice are influenced by various factors such as soil, climate, variety, and cultivation methods. However, the degree of milling significantly impacts its nutritional value. Brown rice, with its outer layers intact, contains 8% protein, 70% starch, and small amounts of lipids, fiber, and minerals. However, milling reduces these beneficial elements drastically.

After milling, white rice loses much of its protein, lipids, fiber, and minerals. The starch, primarily found in the endosperm, becomes the dominant component. Glutinous rice, low in amylase, tends to stick together when cooked. Brown rice contains simple sugars like sucrose, whereas white rice contains fewer. Protein, concentrated in the endosperm, is largely eliminated during milling. The protein content varies among rice varieties, with an average of 9.5%.

Table 1.1: Effect of Refining and Parboiling on Rice (per 100g)

Brown RiceWhite RiceParboiled Rice
Energy (Kcal)360365370
Protein (g)
Lipids (g)
Fiber (g)
Ashes (g)
Thiamine (mg)0.340.070.25
Riboflavin (mg)
Niacin (mg)

Table 1.2: Amino Acid Content of Different Rice Forms and Elements (g/16.8gN)

(Amino acid content of IR-8 varieties)

Here’s the table for the given information:

Amino Acid:Brown RiceWhite RicePericarpAleuronEmbryo
Met + Cys3.
Phe + Tyr9.
Chemical Score76b69b76a87a79a
Proteins (g)7.87.21615.825.3
Proportions by Weight10092.
Distribution of Proteins Tryptophane1008246.57.2
 A 100% = 3,76 g Met + Cys/16,8 gN
B 100% = 5,78 g Lys/16,8 gN
Source: IRRI

Table 1.3: Mineral Value of Rice (mg/kg)

MineralBrown RiceWhite Rice

Brown rice contains more lipids, minerals, and fiber compared to white rice. The milling process reduces the mineral content significantly. Brown rice is a good source of B group vitamins like thiamine and niacin, essential for various bodily functions. It also contains dietary fiber, beneficial for digestion and overall health.

Rice is a complex carbohydrate providing sustained energy. Despite being a staple food, rice alone may not provide sufficient protein for a balanced diet. The loss of nutrients during milling contributes to malnutrition issues, especially in rice-dependent populations. Parboiling before milling retains more nutrients than regular milling, although it requires additional cooking time. Enriched rice, supplemented with vitamins and minerals, helps combat malnutrition in rice-consuming regions.

In conclusion, while rice is a palatable and versatile cereal, its nutritional value is compromised by extensive milling. Efforts to promote consumption of whole grain and parboiled rice, along with enrichment strategies, can mitigate malnutrition risks associated with rice-based diets.

Food and Animal Feed Uses

Rice serves primarily as a staple food for human consumption, with minimal usage as animal feed. Across Asian nations like China, India, Bangladesh, Japan, and Korea, rice dominates as the most consumed cereal, with average annual per capita consumption varying widely between countries. Vietnam reached 240 kg per person in the 1980s, while Laos and Thailand consumed 202 kg. In contrast, the Philippines consumed 89 kg, India 73 kg, and China’s estimates ranged from 72 to 96 kg per person annually. Comparatively, consumption in European countries like France is significantly lower, around 4 kg per person annually.

Varieties and Market Preferences

Market preferences for rice types vary greatly, influencing the dynamics of international rice trade. Notably, trade often involves shipping rice to countries that already produce it due to mismatches in national tastes and preferred rice varieties. For instance, Italy exports round grain rice while importing long grain varieties. Similarly, California imports fragrant Thai rice, prompting shifts in domestic rice production to meet changing demands. Preferences range from white short grain rice in Japan to well-milled long grain indica rice in Thailand. Middle Eastern consumers favor strong-tasting long grain rice, whereas Europeans prefer tasteless varieties. African preferences lean towards broken rice, especially with a red tint. In Bangladesh, parboiled rice is preferred for its ease of cooking. Unfortunately, brown rice is often underappreciated in tropical countries due to its association with poverty and cultural perceptions.

Presentation and Classification

Unlike other cereals, rice is typically presented to consumers in its raw form, emphasizing visual criteria such as grain length, whiteness, translucence, and proportion of broken grains. The European Commission categorizes rice into four types based on the ratio of grain length to breadth, as outlined in Table 1.4.

Grain TypeLength (mm)Length to Width Ratio
Round grain5.22
Middle grain5.2-63
Long grain A6.62 – 3
Long grain B6.03
Source: ONIC

Cooking Qualities and Preferences

The cooking qualities of rice are primarily determined by the proportions of amylase and amylopectin in the starch, along with protein levels and gelatinization temperature. Varieties high in amylase tend to stay separate when cooked, favored in regions like India, Pakistan, and South China. Intermediate levels of amylase are preferred in the Philippines and Indonesia, while sticky rice is favored in Japan and North China. Glutinous rice is preferred in North Thailand and Laos. Parboiling, practiced in India, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka, adds further distinguishing characteristics appreciated in those regions.

Global Culinary Usage

Rice has become a staple in cuisines worldwide, featuring prominently in dishes like Spanish paella, American jambalaya, and various Asian and British curries. It is also consumed as a breakfast cereal, toasted, or coated with sugar or chocolate. Rice dishes are often flavored with saffron, turmeric, herbs, and spices, such as pilau rice with peppers, stock, and onion. Additionally, rice is used in the production of alcoholic beverages like sake in Japan and wang-tsai in China, with nearly one-third of rice in the USA going towards beer production.

Cooking Methods and Considerations

Rice must be cooked before its starch can be absorbed by the human body. Common cooking methods include boiling with water, boiling in excess water and draining, cooking in fat (e.g., paella, risotto), and steaming. Cooking time and temperature vary based on rice composition, with ordinary white rice typically taking about 16 minutes to cook. Pre-cooked rice products have been introduced to reduce cooking time significantly.

Additional Uses and Applications

Rice finds various applications beyond culinary uses. Ground rice flour is utilized as a thickening agent in sweets and sauces and as a substitute for wheat flour for those with food allergies. Rice husks, straw, and bran have diverse applications such as fuel, animal feed, industrial abrasives, and material for making hats, ropes, and mats. Rice bran can be refined into clear oil suitable for cooking and industrial purposes, while broken rice is used in brewing, starch production, and pet foods.

Rice’s versatility extends to starch production, glucose, rice vinegar, and rice oil, contributing to its indispensability in the lives of billions of consumers worldwide.

Types of Traded Rice

Rice is traded in various forms to meet diverse market demands, each with specific quality assurances and intended uses:

  1. Paddy: Typically traded with a guaranteed milling yield, such as 55 – 68, indicating the expected outcome after milling. For instance, out of 100 kg of paddy, the miller will obtain 55 kg of white grains and 13 kg of broken grains, resulting in a total yield of 68 kg. Few countries, notably the USA, export paddy rice.
  2. Brown (Dehusked): Required by the rice industry with guaranteed yields, denoted by specifications like US 2/4/73 – representing 73% whole grain, 12% bran, and 15% brokens.
  3. Milled Rice: The most commonly traded milled rice qualities include:
    • White Rice:
      • US milled No. 2/4 long grain (grade 2/4% brokens) exported to Europe, Middle East, and Latin America.
      • US milled 5/20 LG (grade 5/20% brokens) utilized in US food products.
      • Thai White Rice 100%B (maximum 4.5% broken) to regions like the Middle East (Iran/Iraq) and Malaysia.
      • Thai White Rice with varying percentages of brokens (5/10/15/25/35%) catering to different market needs.
      • Broken rice, either for human consumption or as animal feed.
    • Parboiled Rice:
      • Thai parboiled 5% brokens supplied to countries like Benin, Nigeria, and Bangladesh.

Trade and Packaging

  • Most rice traded internationally is fully milled and packaged, ranging from bulk shipments to retail packaging in sizes like 1 kg boxes or common 50 kg (or 100 lb) bags.
  • While the international rice trade is smaller in volume compared to wheat, constituting around a quarter of wheat trade, its value closely aligns with wheat trade, approximately a quarter as well. In value terms, rice trade rivals sugar and cocoa trades.

Rice Moisture

At the point of harvest, paddy rice typically contains moisture levels ranging between 20% and 28%. The moisture content of paddy varies based on factors such as maturity, prevailing weather conditions (rainy or dry season), and atmospheric humidity. Naturally, paddy moisture tends to be higher during the wet season compared to the dry season.

It is crucial to reduce the moisture content of paddy rice to less than 20% within 48 hours of harvest to minimize the risk of damage during storage. Optimal storage conditions require further drying of the paddy rice to a moisture content of 14% or lower, facilitated through sun drying or modern drying techniques and machinery.

For proper storage, rice kernels should ideally maintain a moisture content between 13% and 14%. Exceeding this threshold can lead to undesirable consequences such as a yellowish hue indicating mold growth, lumping, decay, and overall damage affecting both the quality and quantity of the rice.

Even rice that is not in direct contact but is in close proximity to damaged rice can be affected. Hence, it is prudent to inspect for such damage before the rice cargo leaves the warehouse storage facility. Full cooperation from shippers is necessary for carriers and appointed surveyors to identify the storage location of the rice prior to shipment.

The ideal travel temperature range for rice is between 5°C and 25°C. Temperatures exceeding 25°C can accelerate metabolic processes, leading to self-heating and agglomeration (clumping). Mould development thrives between 20°C and 30°C, making temperature control crucial during transit.

Milling and Processing

Rice processing, a pivotal stage in post-harvest activities, involves the removal of husks and bran particles from the paddy grain. Milled rice typically retains a higher temperature than its pre-processing state. At this stage, moisture content often exceeds 14%, and bran particles may adhere to the kernel’s surface. As the rice undergoes whitening during processing, it gradually acquires an ivory or yellow coloration.

Preparing Rice for Export

International trade in rice is relatively modest, accounting for only about 5–6% of the total rice production worldwide. The primary exporting nations are Thailand, Vietnam, and the United States, while major importers typically include Bangladesh, the Philippines, Brazil, and various African and Persian Gulf countries. Notably, despite China and India being the top two global rice producers, their domestic consumption largely absorbs their production, limiting their participation in international trade.

Thailand faces a foreseeable decline in competitiveness and export market share relative to Vietnam due to the latter’s focused efforts in developing rice production and marketing, as outlined in a report by the International Trade Studies Centre. Projections suggest that Thai rice exports to the global market may decrease by 14% in 2020, reaching 8.6 million tonnes, while Vietnamese exports are anticipated to rise by 25% to 7.5 million tonnes.

Historically, Vietnamese rice exports were characterized by a significant portion being low grade, with approximately 35% of exported rice having broken ends. However, advancements in production and processing technologies have enabled Vietnam to produce rice with broken ends ranging between 5% and 10%.

To maintain quality and meet export standards, Vietnamese exporters adhere to the Vietnamese Rice Standard for Export established by the Standardization Meteorology and Quality Control (SMQC) Centre. Exporters may adjust rice quality as needed through reprocessing, including whitening, sieving, polishing, and drying, or by blending rice from different piles to achieve desired specifications during packing at warehouses.

Bagged rice is then transported from warehouses and various locations in and around Ho Chi Minh City and the Mekong Delta region. However, monitoring rice accuracy during transportation can pose challenges due to the decentralized nature of these operations.

Notable Problems in Rice Export

Allocation and Handling

Rice exporters often allocate cargo quantities for one-day shipment to multiple supplier warehouses in Ho Chi Minh City and/or Mekong Delta provinces. Since these suppliers may not directly handle exports, each is responsible for their cargo until loading onto the ship. However, suppliers sometimes provide cargo meeting only the minimum specifications to maximize profit, occasionally deviating slightly from required standards.

Procurement Challenges

Many suppliers procure rice from local farms, mills, or merchants as needed, lacking the financial capacity to buy and process rice in advance. Urgent export demands may lead to compromises in processing time, affecting cargo quality, particularly moisture content, which is crucial for compliance with government standards.

Moisture Content Concerns

Vietnamese government standards mandate an average moisture content of 14% for rice. To meet this, suppliers may mix kernels of varying moisture levels, balancing higher and lower moisture content rice. However, this practice can result in mold, discoloration, and decay during transport, affecting nearby rice and causing moisture migration, odors, and cargo heating.

Ventilation and Seasonal Challenges

Proper ventilation of cargo and holds is essential, particularly during Vietnam’s monsoon season from May to November, which exacerbates moisture content issues. Despite advancements in drying and processing techniques, some suppliers adjust rice quality by mixing different grades and moisture contents during packing, potentially neglecting moisture standards.

Quality Assurance

While rice processing techniques have improved, loopholes in the system still allow poorer quality rice to be shipped alongside compliant rice, posing challenges in maintaining consistent quality standards across shipments.

Circumstances at the Load Port

Hold Examination

Before loading, cargo interests typically inspect the ship’s holds. The shipper’s surveyor may request tests of the hatch covers, often preferring an ultrasonic method. Ships’ staff should cooperate fully with such requests to ensure compliance and readiness for loading.

Dunnaging Process

Once approved for loading, dunnage (timber or bamboo) is placed on the tanktops of each hold. Typically, timber planks are laid longitudinally in a fore-and-aft alignment, with kraft paper or plastic sheeting atop the dunnage. In some Vietnamese ports, bamboo poles and matting are used instead. The aim is to create separation between bags and steelwork to allow ventilation, prevent condensation damage, and facilitate drainage.

Challenges and Solutions

However, the current dunnaging specification may not fully achieve its objectives, as moisture can still penetrate between planks, potentially causing damage to cargo. A more effective method involving a cross pattern of stout timbers, covered with kraft paper or plastic sheeting, is proposed. While this incurs additional expense, it significantly reduces the risk of wet damage to cargo and associated claims.

Condensation Concerns

Condensation is a common issue during voyages to West Africa, particularly as temperatures fluctuate and the ship transitions between warm and cold waters. Adequate ventilation and air gaps between cargo and steelwork are essential to mitigate condensation-related damage. While some ships lack mechanical ventilation systems, opening hatch covers during suitable conditions can help alleviate this issue.

Prevention and Cost Reduction

Investing in proper dunnaging during loading can substantially reduce cargo damage claims and associated survey costs. This minor expense upfront benefits cargo shippers, receivers, charterers, and shipowners in the long run by minimizing the risk of cargo damage and the associated financial burdens.

Loading Rice

Location and Process

Rice cargoes are typically loaded at mooring buoys or anchorages near Ho Chi Minh City. Cargo is transported by truck or barge to the vessel. However, exposure to wetness damage during the barge leg is a concern, particularly in inclement weather.

Stevedores and Handling

Port stevedores, often contracted by the shipper or charterer, load the cargo onto the vessel. Unfortunately, their low wages often result in minimal care during loading, leading to potential cargo damage.

Challenges and Precautions

Prohibited practices, such as the use of steel hooks, can lead to cargo damage and loss. Masters must issue letters of protest and ensure appropriate clauses on mate’s receipts to protect against such issues. Additionally, independent surveyors should be employed to oversee proper loading and stowage.

Surveys and Monitoring

Initial, intermediate, and final draft surveys, along with tallying by independent clerks, help reduce cargo shortage claims. Testing for moisture content is crucial, with any excess posing risks at the discharge port. Cargo quality certificates should be obtained cautiously, with independent analysis recommended.

Weather Considerations

Weather conditions, including rain, require careful monitoring and proactive measures to protect the cargo. Erecting hatch tents and closing hatches in anticipation of rain can help mitigate potential damage.

Rain Indemnity Letters

Some charterers issue what is known as a ‘rain letter’, supposedly providing indemnity against the consequences of loading operations in the rain. However, there are significant drawbacks to this practice.

Firstly, loading cargo in the rain can directly wet both the cargo being loaded and the cargo already in the hold, potentially leading to damage. Secondly, rain can elevate moisture levels in the hold, increasing the risk of condensation and further cargo damage.

Accepting a rain letter could jeopardize P&I club cover, as deliberately carrying out cargo operations in conditions known to cause damage may be viewed unfavorably. If cargo damage occurs, reliance on the rain letter instead of standard P&I club cover may be necessary.

Moreover, some charterers may attempt to shift blame for resulting cargo claims onto owners, alleging failure to properly ventilate the cargo. This ignores their own role in creating conditions conducive to condensation.

Given these risks, it is advisable to avoid relying on rain letters altogether.

Preparations Prior to Loading

Hold Preparations:

Before the vessel’s arrival at the loading port, it is essential to undertake thorough cleaning and washing of the holds to remove any remnants of previous cargo and to ensure cleanliness. Ideally, fresh water should be used for this purpose. However, it is common for ship personnel to wash the holds with seawater, followed by rinsing with fresh water to remove any chloride residues. It is crucial to ensure a comprehensive rinsing process to eliminate all chloride residues, as their presence could indicate seawater ingress during the voyage. Failure to remove these residues may lead to positive results in chemical tests conducted by cargo surveyors upon discharge, potentially indicating seawater contamination. Additionally, the combination of chlorides and moisture creates favorable conditions for mold growth.

Ballast Tanks:

Prior to loading, the double bottom and top-side ballast tanks, if present, should be pressurized to assess their watertight integrity.

Bilge Suctions and Tanktop Openings:

Thorough examination, testing, and verification of operational functionality are required for bilge suctions and tanktop openings. The strainer plates should be covered with burlap, and bilge wells must be opened and cleaned. Any openings into the tanktop should be inspected for watertightness and proper securing.

Sounding Pipes and Hold Pipes:

Examination and clearance of debris from sounding pipes and other hold pipes are necessary. All pipes within the holds, including ballast and tank air pipes, should be closely inspected to ensure they are in good condition. Sounding pipe closures on deck must be confirmed to be watertight.

Hatch Covers:

Hatch covers, including hold access covers, should undergo examination, preferably through hose or ultrasonic testing, to ensure their satisfactory condition. Any deficiencies identified during testing should be promptly addressed.

Hold Ventilation:

Verification of the sound condition and operability of ventilation shafts and flaps is essential, with particular attention to ensuring weather-tight closure. If the vessel is equipped with mechanical ventilation, it should be serviced and confirmed to be in good working order.


Dunnaging, traditionally composed of bamboo sticks laid in a criss-cross pattern on steel tank tops and along bulkheads, poses a concern due to its moisture retention properties. Despite appearing dry externally, bamboo sticks can retain and release moisture into cargo holds during transit, potentially compromising cargo integrity.

Although bamboo sticks, mats, and kraft paper have been customary dunnaging materials for loading bagged rice, modern practices increasingly favor a combination of sheeted styrofoam, polyethylene sheets, and kraft paper, as per charterers’ preferences.

While the benefits of this alternative dunnage remain anecdotal, it is believed to offer enhanced protection against temperature fluctuations, acting as insulation against the ship’s condensation. Nevertheless, proper ventilation remains essential for cargo preservation.

Ventilation channels

Ventilation channels within adjacent block stows should align with the direction of natural airflow within the holds, typically fore-and-aft. To facilitate proper air circulation, individual stows should be interconnected using transversely arranged bags, typically placed at every fifth tier across the ventilation channel.

To maintain structural integrity and stability, bags should be stowed leaving ventilation channels of 10-15 cm at horizontal intervals of approximately 20 bags, with bags blocking the channels at intervals of 5-6 tiers.

Additionally, it is advisable to position cargo against corrugated bulkheads to prevent bags from falling and bursting, thereby reducing the risk of cargo shortages at initial ports of call.

Infestation and Fumigation

Understanding Fumigation Instructions:

  • All rice cargoes undergo fumigation post-loading.
  • Essential for ship’s staff to grasp fumigation requirements.
  • Ventilation system must accommodate fumigation needs.

Challenges and Precautions:

  • Common fumigants react with atmospheric moisture, generating heat.
  • Careful attention required due to potential harm to humans.
  • Survey of ship by independent inspector before fumigation.
  • Inspection focuses on preventing fumigant migration to crew areas.
  • Proper sealing of vulnerable areas such as bulkheads and hatch covers.
  • Application of warning signs and sealing of access trunkways.

Factors Influencing Fumigation:

  • Various factors affect fumigation efficacy, including hold layout and cargo density.
  • Some fumigations undertaken primarily due to contractual obligations.
  • Risk of inadequate fumigation due to cost-cutting measures.

Fumigants and Dosage:

  • Phostoxin (aluminium phosphide) commonly used.
  • Moisture and temperature prerequisites for phostoxin effectiveness.
  • Recommended dosage: 33-45 grams per 1,000 ft³.
  • Importance of proper dosage for effective treatment.
  • Challenges with application and effectiveness if not properly executed.

Incident Analysis and Recommendations:

  • Example of fire sparked by improper fumigation procedure.
  • Wet conditions and improper application led to combustion of empty bags.
  • Importance of loading dry bags and proper fumigation procedures.

Methyl Bromide and Safety Concerns:

  • Methyl bromide facing global ban due to ozone layer impact.
  • Colorless and odorless nature poses significant safety risks.
  • Quick-acting but hazardous; not suitable for in-transit fumigation.

Pesticide Use Recommendations:

  • IMCO’s MSC approves guidelines for safe pesticide use.
  • Pests on ships pose various risks, including damage to cargo and equipment.
  • Few pesticides effective against all potential pests; careful selection necessary.

Insects in Cargo Spaces and Cargoes:

  • Introduction, cross, and residual infestation risks.
  • Control measures required for compliance and commercial reasons.
  • Risk of excessive heating in severe infestation cases.

Rodents Control:

  • Rodent control crucial to prevent cargo and equipment damage.
  • International Health Regulations mandate rodent control to prevent disease spread.

Precautionary Measures:

  • Preparation for in-transit fumigation, including sealing off areas.
  • Importance of maintaining hatch cover seals.
  • Proper sealing and closure of cargo hold ventilators.
  • Ensuring correct dosage of fumigant for effective treatment.

Overseas carriage of rice

The loading port
At loading ports, problems are uncommon despite multiple cargo handlings and lighter vessel anchorage. Prudent carriers conduct pre-loading checks to ensure cargo care during the voyage. These include verifying cleanliness of holds, clear bilge wells, intact hatch covers, and unobstructed ventilation shafts. Independent tallying and moisture level checks are recommended. Moisture levels close to or exceeding 14% may indicate future issues. Reliance solely on charterers for load tallies may not adequately protect owners’ interests. Random sampling of bagged cargo and laboratory analysis are advised due to potential inaccuracies in handheld moisture readings. Proper stowage is essential, with ventilation channels and dry dunnaging materials preferred to mitigate condensation damage. Ventilating cargo by opening hatches during suitable weather further enhances cargo preservation.

The Loaded Passage

Ventilation of the cargo should be conducted whenever feasible, following industry standards. Keep a ventilation log along with weather data, including wet and dry bulb temperatures, and monitor sea water temperatures.

Regularly sound the cargo hold bilges twice daily and maintain a detailed record. Investigate and address any unexpected findings promptly, documenting all bilge pumping activities with dates and times.

Before reaching the discharge port, the Master should ensure that independent tallying firms are appointed by the Owners and not solely rely on tally clerks appointed by Charterers or receivers, as their interests may conflict with those of the Owners.

The Discharge Port

During discharge operations at the port, tally clerks typically represent Owners, Charterers, and Cargo Interests, each bringing formal letters of appointment. A joint "opening survey" is conducted when holds are first opened, with a ship officer present to observe and confirm findings. Photographs of the stowage condition should be taken and recorded. Any wet or damaged bags should be documented and set aside for sampling, with immediate notification to Owners/Managers.

Discrepancies often arise among the outturn reports produced by different tally clerks. It’s advisable for the Master to sign these reports only for receipt. Ship’s crew members should tally alongside the Owner’s appointed tally clerk to prevent potential shortages claimed by receivers.

Tally clerks may tally the number of slings offloaded instead of counting each bag, which can lead to inaccuracies. The Master should protest if this occurs and support it with a letter of protest. Receivers’ tally clerks sometimes conduct tallying at warehouses distant from the discharging vessel, raising concerns about cargo accountability and potential theft.

Discharge Port Considerations

Upon arrival at the discharge port, issues commonly arise with rice carriage to West Africa, particularly during the discharge process. Stevedore mishandling often leads to torn bags, with even minor damage causing claims of cargo damage. The Master should issue protest letters, ensure mate’s receipts are suitably claused, and instruct agents to adhere strictly to mate’s receipt clauses when signing bills of lading. Photographs documenting damage and noting date, time, and location are crucial evidence for P&I surveyors.

Pilferage is prevalent in many ports, and tallying disputes are worsened by receivers appointing local surveyors and tally firms to conduct tallies ashore. Allegations of significant cargo shortages or damage early in cargo operations, often exaggerated, prompt demands for security, threatening vessel arrest and raising jurisdictional issues. Cargo underwriters, typically based in France, frequently seek security for claims under French law, despite contracts of carriage being governed by other laws and jurisdictions, such as English law and arbitration in London. Differences in legal frameworks, particularly regarding stevedore mishandling and short landing claims, further complicate matters.

What can be done by Owners and Carriers?

Owners and carriers play crucial roles in addressing contractual and jurisdictional considerations in the transportation of goods. Anticipating and addressing potential issues during contract negotiation and pre-planning at the discharge port are essential for mitigating risks.

Contractual and Jurisdictional Considerations

The intricate nature of trade and its associated challenges necessitate careful attention to contractual and jurisdictional aspects. For instance, in jurisdictions like France, where the bill of lading and Charterparty are often considered separate contracts, carriers may face challenges in relying on charter party provisions. Therefore, explicit clauses specifying governing law and jurisdiction in bills of lading can enhance the carrier’s position, especially when dealing with potential legal disputes in jurisdictions like French courts.

Mitigating Risks and Ensuring Protection

To safeguard against potential liabilities and uncertainties, owners and carriers can employ various strategies. Express indemnities by charterers against specific liabilities, such as short landing of cargo or cargo damage due to stevedore mishandling, can provide protection and avenues for recovering incurred expenses. Such proactive measures help align legal expectations with the intended terms and conditions of the contract of carriage, thereby minimizing risks and ensuring smoother operations.

Ensuring Cargo Integrity: Appearance, Tallying, and Draught Survey

Maintaining the integrity of cargo during transportation involves meticulous attention to its appearance, tallying procedures, and conducting draught surveys. These measures are crucial for addressing potential discrepancies and challenges upon cargo discharge.

Crew Involvement and Supervision

The involvement of the vessel’s crew plays a pivotal role in overseeing discharge operations and ensuring accurate tallying of cargo. Crew members can conduct tallies or closely monitor tally sheets produced by receivers, thereby facilitating control over the discharge process and mitigating risks of erroneous claims.

Combatting Theft and Mismanagement

Preventing theft and mishandling of cargo by stevedores requires proactive measures, such as employing private security guards and issuing detailed protests against any observed incidents. By addressing these issues promptly and rigorously, owners and carriers can minimize their exposure to potential losses and legal disputes.

Bills of lading and charterparties

In conjunction with the notes summarized above, the following comments as regards bill of lading and charterparty issues can be made:

  • Express Law and Jurisdiction Clause: Bills of lading should explicitly state the law and jurisdiction for dispute resolution, preferably referencing London arbitration and English law, allowing shipowners to limit responsibility for cargo handling.
  • Liability Exemption Clause: Owners should endeavor to include clauses in bills of lading absolving the vessel and owners from any risk, liability, or expense related to cargo handling, although generic terms like “free in/out/load/stow/discharge” may not suffice for damage liability.
  • Clausing for Cargo Condition: Bills of lading must document any cargo loaded in less than apparent good order and condition to protect owners’ interests.
  • Charterparty Liability Allocation: Charterparties should hold charterers fully liable for cargo damage during loading, stowing, and discharging, exemplified by clauses like 5(a) of the Gencon charterparty.
  • Master’s Right to Supervise: Charterparties should grant masters the authority to supervise and intervene in stowage and stevedore actions affecting vessel seaworthiness and safety.
  • Inter-Club New York Produce Exchange Agreement (ICA): Charter agreements should not undermine the applicability or terms of the ICA, maintaining its standard claim apportionment for cargo handling.
  • Evidential Requirements under ICA: Owners must provide clear and irrefutable evidence, possibly through court surveyors, to defend claims under the ICA, especially concerning pilferage and condensation damage.
  • Dunnage Responsibility: Charterparties should stipulate that charterers provide, pay for, and lay all dunnage, clarifying responsibility for its provision and use.
  • Ventilation Terms: Owners should avoid burdensome ventilation clauses in charterparties, informing charterers of vessel ventilation limitations and natural ventilation constraints due to weather and sea conditions.
  • Cargo Damage Prevention: Charterparties should not impose unrealistic expectations on owners regarding preventing cargo damage by stevedores and pilferage, particularly in challenging port environments like West Africa.
  • Cargo Description in Bills of Lading: Charterparties should not restrict owners’ ability to dispute cargo quantities stated in bills of lading, preserving their right to contest discrepancies.
  • Circuity of Claims: Owners may argue against cargo claims by demonstrating circuity, wherein ultimate responsibility for cargo handling claims lies with the voyage charterers, especially in complex charterparty chains.
  • Master’s Intervention: Masters should refrain from interfering in cargo stowage and handling unless safety or seaworthiness concerns arise, issuing protests to shippers and charterers when necessary.

Final Thoughts

shipping rice presents a multitude of challenges and complexities for owners and carriers. From ensuring cargo integrity during loading, stowing, and discharging to navigating contractual obligations and legal jurisdiction issues, meticulous planning and proactive measures are essential. Despite the inherent difficulties, practical solutions such as robust tallying procedures, draught surveys, and crew involvement can mitigate risks. Clear and comprehensive clauses in bills of lading and charterparties are crucial for protecting owners’ interests and minimizing liabilities. While the voyage remains fertile ground for claims, adherence to preventative measures and a thorough understanding of contractual obligations can significantly reduce risks and ensure smoother operations in the shipping of rice.

Tags: Shipping Guide

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