The exports of Basmati rice have registered a decline of 40.54 percent during last five years from 1,137,943 metric tonnes in 2010-2011 to 676,630 metric tonnes in 2014-15 while non-Basmati rice exports have witnessed a growth of 19.15 percent from 2,563,664 metric tonnes to 3,054,680 metric tonnes during the same period.
The Rice Research Institute (RRI) Kala Shah Kaku’s sources said the Basmati rice exports in term of value has declined from US $1.137 billion in 2010-11 to US $676, 630 million in 2014-15 against the non-Basmati rice whose exports have increased from $1.138 billion to $1.167 billion during the same period.
The boost in non-Basmati rice exports was mainly because of the increment in Hybrid cultivated area in Sindh, Guard Agricultural Research & Services (pvt) Ltd, Shahzad Ali Malik said. Quoting the figures of the Ministry of National Food Safety and Research, Malik in a presentation given to Lahore Economic Journalists Association, said that hybrid area of cultivation has increased in Sindh form 84300 hectares in 2008-09 to 3, 022, 000 hectares in 2014-15 showing a growth of 258-percent.
He said the hybrid rice cultivation area is being increased rapidly due to high per acre yield up to 120 mounds. He revealed that Irri (International Rice Research Institute) production is persistently witnessing a decline that has dwindled from 19,493,000 tonnes in 2008-09 to 11,615,000 tonnes in 2014-15 showing a negative growth of 40.41 percent. “We have started hybrid rice seed production with 20 acres in 2005 in Sindh but now the area of seed production has increased to 900 acres in the Sindh province.
He said the Guard Agricultural Research & Services is aggressively working on research to develop extra long grain Basmati rice to 8mm, heat tolerant, drought tolerant and salinity resistant verities. The success in developing drought tolerant and salinity verities would not be less than a revolution which would help enhance rice exports from Pakistan besides uplifting the farmers’ life, he said.
Shahzad Ali Malik said that his company has entered into a joint venture with Yuan Longping High-Tech Agriculture Company Limited China headed by founder of hybrid rice Professor Yuan Longping while transfer of Chinese hybrid rice technology to Pakistan was made way back in 1999. “The research, particularly in the agriculture sector, is a lengthy job that requires high degree of patience” he added. We set up rice research centres in Golarachi (Sindh) in 1999, in Larkana (Sindh) in 2003, Kandh Kot (Sindh) in 2005 and Manga Mandi (Punjab) in 2012, he maintained.
He said the hybrid rice technology has resulted in double the yield of Irri rice and double the farmers’ income. Malik said that his company is now working on enhancing the per acre yield of 8mm rice to 80-100 mounds in Punjab whose seed would commercially be available in 2019. ” We would not only restrict to rice but evolved a plan to include other crops like wheat, maize, oil seed of sunflower besides vegetable crops including tomato and chili” he disclosed. To a question, he said the Guard Basmati Rice is currently being exported to 38 countries.
He was of the view that Pakistan Agriculture Research Council was the appropriate organisation for granting approval of seed varieties but due to the 18th Amendment, the agriculture department has come under the domain of provincial government. He, however, urged the authorities concerned to designate an impartial body to approve/certify the seed for commercial purpose. The Rice Research Institute Kala Shah Kaku (a public sector organisation) which is also a competitor of private sector should be restricted to the evaluation role rather than granting approval of rice varieties, he demanded.
Source: Business Recorder