LAHORE: Pakistan’s rice export sector achieved the milestone of exporting the commodity worth $2.511 billion during the financial year 2021-22 by exporting slightly over 4.877 million tons of rice despite various impediments such as higher freight rates and non-availability of containers.
The total rice exports include 750,617 tons basmati and 4,126,674 tons non-basmati. Compared to the last fiscal 2020-21, the total rice exports remained at 4.016 million tons.
Sharing the figures with Business Recorder on Wednesday, Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) Chairman Ali Hussam Asghar said four factors played major role in uplifting the rice exports from Pakistan which include availability of surplus stocks of non-basmati rice for exports, lower prices of Basmati rice as compared to India at the start of the exporting season, more basmati exports to the regional countries and permission by the government to allow ‘bulk vessel loading’ for brown rice.
Ali Hussam said that due to lower prices of Basmati, international players approached Pakistan for their buying needs while permission to allow bulk vessel loading due to non-availability of containers in the required quantity, pushed up the exports helping Pakistan to achieve record exports.
He paid tribute to the government agencies for allowing the exporters to adopt bulk vessel loading method to meet their international commitments.
Replying to a query, he dispelled the impression that currency devaluation has played any role in pushing the exports up as he claimed that it only became possible due to availability of surplus non-basmati rice and international buyers who preferred Pakistani basmati due to price difference with India.
Talking about the future road map, he said the government should invest all its energies in resolving the supply chain issues as well as growing more to export more. “We have done what we can with the existing crop in hand and situation will only improve if we can grow more. We have to incentivize farmers rather encourage the services sector to come into the field for introducing rice translators and rice harvesters to get more out of the land in hand,” he added.
Ali Hussam said using rice-translators can double the number of plants in one acre from 40,000 to 80,000 while rice specific harvesters can save the wastage of rice during harvesting. It will make available more production per acre to add to the profitability of the farmers and other stakeholders.
“We should work on this side on emergent basis to take the exports to $3 billion next year,” he remarked.
The REAP Chairman said local consumption of Basmati rice is also increasing as everyone wants good quality long rice grain. Brands are expensive but growing which shows the popularity in domestic market but it also spark the need for more yield to sustain and improve our exports.
He said farmers cannot afford to import expensive rice transplanters or harvesters so private sector should be encouraged and granted loans on lower interest rates which can lend this machinery on charges to growers. “If machines can increase yield per acre, make it mandatory as growers will have no objection to hire these machines,” Ali Hussam said.
He said the seed sector should also be incentivized so they could bring good quality seed with more per acre yield. He hoped that Basmati sowing will go up this year as prices were good. Farmers got rate of Rs5000/40kg currently for Basmati paddy. Even if cost of production doubles from 1150/acre last year to 2200 this season, he will be having a good saving if rate drops to Rs4000/acre.
Hamid Malik, a rice trade analyst, remarked that improvement in supply side during the last three years as production increased from 7.2 million tons to 8.9 million tons helped getting a good export figure this year. In his view all stakeholders from growers, paddy processors and exporters played their role effectively.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2022