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ISLAMABAD: Commerce Advisor Abdul Razak Dawood has sought Prime Minister’s intervention to enhance rice quota allocation to China due to bumper crop, official sources told Business Recorder.

Dawood, who is facing criticism from the top brass of government due to less growth in exports and higher imports, floated this proposal at a recent meeting of the federal cabinet.

The export of Pakistani rice to Kenya is facing issues, whereas some hurdles were also witnessed in Europe, which have now been sorted out.

During discussion, one of the cabinet Members pointed out that the entire crop basket needed to be considered as an increase in area under cultivation of one crop would result in decrease of others.

The Minister for Food Security & Research, Syed Fakhar Imam, explained that the growth was primarily driven by the yield effect and the changes in areas under cultivation were marginal.

The Advisor to the Prime Minister on Commerce &Investment, apprised about the efforts of Commerce Division to tap non-traditional markets to fully realize the export potential of surplus rice. He; however, requested the intervention of Prime Minister for enhancement of quota allocated to Pakistan by China.

It was pointed out that China was currently importing rice mostly from Vietnam and India and there was a potential for Pakistan to export one million tons of rice to Chinese market.

Razak says export base ‘much too narrow’

Another cabinet Member suggested to divert the subsidy from urea to the imported DAP fertilizer, whose prices had risen exceptionally, as the farmers did not have appetite for substitution.

The need for projecting a thriving rural economy, due to agriculture sector interventions by the government was also highlighted.

The cabinet was also informed about financial impact of better crops on the country’s Gross Domestic Production (GDP) and additional income to the farmers.

It was apprised that additional income to farmers from wheat, cotton, rice, maize and sugarcane has been calculated at Rs 399 billion of which Rs118billion was from wheat, Rs 136 billion from cotton, Rs 46 billion from rice, Rs 3billion from maize and Rs 96 billion from sugarcane.

The cabinet was briefed that import substitution of wheat was of $ 917 million, cotton $ 877 million, maize, $ 17 million and sugarcane $ 803 million. The potential for additional export of cotton and rice was $ 2 billion each, totalling $ 4.620 billion.

The government has claimed that it took following initiatives to support the country’s agriculture sector: (i) Prime Minister National Agriculture Emergency Program (NAEP) in 2019-20 (Rs 277 billion);(ii) Agriculture Transformation Plan(Rs 48.586 billion) in 2020-21;(iii) enhanced target for agri-credit ( up to Rs 1,500 billion, an increase of 23.5 per cent;(iv) track and traceability of certified seed; (v) subsidy on fertilizers (Rs 148 billion);(vi) gas for fertilizer plants ( Rs 132 billion);(vii) subsidized LNG to two fertilizer plants( Rs 8.1 billion); and (viii) direct subsidy to the farmers of Rs 8 billion.

According to the Ministry of National Food Security and Research, minimum support/indicative prices of following crops have also been increased, i.e., wheat Rs 1800/ 40 kg (2020-21), cotton Rs 5,000/40 kg( 2021-22) and sugarcane Punjab & KP Rs 225, Sindh 250/40 kg.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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