Rice exports during the first three months (July-Sept) of the current fiscal year recorded a steep fall of up to 30 per cent in quantity and by 35 per cent in terms of price, thereby missing average quarterly export target of $500 million.
According to official figures, export of Basmati rice during September recorded a fall of 51 per cent at 128,278 tons as against exports made in July 2012 at 260,466 tons.
Similarly there had been a sharp fall of 21 per cent in export of non-Basmati rice during the current month at 263,589 tons as compared to 333,236 tons recoded in July 2012.
Jawed Ali Ghori, newly-elected chairman of Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (Reap), told Dawn that high price of Pakistan’s rice is a major reason of steep fall in export of rice.
He said that presently there are no stocks of rice with exporters and growers, but only boarders and investors are holding huge stocks and it was damaging the export trade.
He lamented that India has removed all sorts of restrictions and levies on rice trade which made exports competitive in the world market. Against this, our official machinery is not alive to the situation which has resulted in a steep fall in rice exports, he added.
He said that on an average the country produces 6.5 million tons of rice, out of which 4 million tons is non-basmati (Irri-6) and around 2.5 million tons is Basmati.
However, after meeting the domestic demand of around 1.5 millions tons of Basmati rice, the balance of around 1 to 1.2 million tons are exported whereas Irri-6 rice having no local consumption and demand is entirely exported.
Zulfikar Thaver, a leading rice exporter, said that unfortunately the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) being well aware of the fall in rice export has not examined the causes and has not taken serious measures to safeguard country’s traditional markets.
He urged the TDAP to ask the government to take immediate positive steps to regain not only the lost markets of Gulf and Middle East but to penetrate in major markets, such as Canada, US, UK and European countries which are flooded with Indian Basmati rice.
Mr Thaver said that there was an urgent need to provide Export Credit Guarantee Insurance (ECGI) cover to rice exporters to enable them to export to third world countries and accept letters of credit of banks with lower ranking on the basis of the ECGI cover provided by the National Insurance Company Ltd (NICL).
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