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4.6m tons of rice exported in 2009-10   
 
By Parvaiz Ishfaq Rana
KARACHI: A record export of rice was achieved during 2009-10, when 4.607 million tons of the commodity was shipped fetching $2.265 billion.

According to official figures the country up to June 30, 2010 exported around 4.604 million tons of all verities, including basmati showing an increase of 57 per cent over the previous year exports of 2.930 million tons.

Similarly, there was foreign exchange earning at $2.265 billion, 10 per cent higher than $2.044 billion achieved during 2008-09.

However, if analysed closely the fact is that the country was unable to fetch a good price and led to less than proportional increase in the volume of the commodity that surged by 57 per cent against only 10 per cent increase in overall earning.

Nevertheless, it is a remarkable achievement on part of the private sector exporters of rice, particularly at a time when export of other goods, including textiles recorded a fall during 2009-10.

It has been also a great job on the part of growers, who managed to produce bumper crop of over 6.6 million tons although they faced shortage of irrigation water. After meeting domestic consumption of around 2.5 million tons the country was left with exportable surplus of over 4 million tons. However, there was a carryover balance of around one million tons from the last crop.

As per the breakup of rice exports during the out-going year, basmati exports stood at 0.943 million tons and fetched total value of $786.5 million on fob basis and at an average price of $834 per ton. The export of non-basmati stood at 3.557 million tons and earned $1.399 billion on fob basis and at an average price of $393 per ton.

However, a small quantity 107,010 tons of brown rice was exported through Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP) by private sector exporters, which fetched around $80 million on fob basis and at an average price of $749 per ton.

Rafique Suleman, the vice-chairman Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (Reap) told Dawn that undoubtedly the country exported record quantity of rice but it failed to fetch good price owing to host of factors.

He said whenever there is a government intervention in any trade it fails to produce the desired results and same could be said about rice exports, because last year the TCP was allowed to move in rice trade and exports.

However, he assured to further increase rice exports if the government helped to create more exportable surplus along with the quality. Mr Suleman suggested that water issue should be resolved at the earliest to ensure higher paddy production and timely arrival of the crop.

Above all, he said, there is a greater need for developing new rice varieties to improve quality and production. Therefore, he demanded that the government should induct private sector members in the boards of rice research institutes.

Presently, there are two institutes each in the Punjab and Sindh. Private sector members from north and south zones of the Reap should be inducted in their boards for getting better research work and results.

Malik Mohammad Jahangir, central chairman Reap complained that the government did not accept any of their proposals given for the budget and demanded that withholding tax on rice export should be immediately removed.

Rahim Janoo, former chairman Reap said that private sector exporters were actively exploring new markets and if the government did not intervene, as it did in 2008-09, rice trade could flourish and more foreign exchange could be earned for the country.

He disclosed that a rice trade delegation would visit three African countries from July 7, to explore new markets. There is big scope to increase rice exports to the Middle East, Europe, Africa and even Far East but all this needs a free hand and there should be no government intervention at any level..

Courtesy: The NATION
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