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KARACHI: Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) has asked the federal government to devise a long-term strategy with consultation of all stakeholders to achieve $5 billion rice export target.

Chairman REAP Chela Ram Kewlani said that the rice sector has potential to export $5 billion rice annually, but there is a need to devise a long-term policy to gradually increase the rice exports.

While talking to media, he informed that despite multiple challenges rice exporters are earning over $2 billion annually precious foreign exchange for the country and still there are many opportunities to increase the rice exports.

Basmati rice exports up by 45pc in March

However, quality seeds, subsidies, agricultural input and aggressive marketing are required to enhance rice exports, he said.

As per Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS), Pakistan’s rice exports grew 23 percent to reach $2.511 billion in FY21 compared with $2.041 billion in FY20. Pakistan exported 4.877 million tonnes of rice in FY22 against 3.684 million tonnes in FY21, recording a growth of 32.35 percent.

Chela Ram said that in the current economic conditions, exporters are facing a number of challenges and need government’s support to further enhance the exports. Pakistani farmers are still using outdated seeds, due to which Pakistan’s per acre production is very low compared to other countries, he mentioned.

There are a number of agricultural research centres and institutes in the country; however, no new variety of rice has been introduced during the last many years. There is a need to import new rice varieties from the Philippines and other countries to enhance the per acre yield, he suggested.

He further said that Pakistan’s rice sector is facing multiple challenges including seeds development, storage and higher cost of production. The federal government must take farmer friendly measures to support the rice exports by enhancing cultivation area and providing quality seeds to farmers for an improved and higher crop yield, he added.

Development and introduction of new rice varieties is the most important thing to increase the crop production and earn more foreign exchange for the country, which is already facing a cash crisis and needs higher inflows to avoid default.

The REAP has planned to increase rice exports up to $5 billion in the next few years, but it needs serious efforts from the government’s side to achieve this goal, Chela Ram said.

He said that Pakistan has very stiff competition in the world market and despite that African countries, China and EU Countries are leading buyers of Pakistani rice as quality of our rice is better than the rice of other competitors.

He also urged the government to support the rice exporters to explore new markets for the rice exports. Iran is also a good market for Pakistani Basmati rice, but due to the non-availability of the banking channel, Pakistan exporters are unable to export rice to neighbouring country Iran”, he mentioned.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023


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