KARACHI, June 10: A steep fall of around 38 per cent in Basmati rice exports during first 11 months (July to May) of current fiscal year resulted in lesser foreign exchange earning at $544 million as against $767m fetched in the same period last year.

As a result of this, the country earned $222m less in foreign exchange on export of around 548,014 tonnes basmati rice during July-May as against 885,049 tonnes in the same period in 2011-12. The fall in basmati rice exports in value term stood at 29 per cent.

Though exporters managed to get slightly better price in the world market for basmati rice this fiscal year, tough competition given by Indian exporters through aggressive marking resulted in setback. The average price fetched this fiscal year for basmati rice was $993 per tonne which stood higher than $866 of last fiscal year.

However, a steep fall in exports in terms of quantity of basmati rice which has been estimated at 337,035 tonnes or 38pc over last year’s total exports at 885,049 tonnes is being considered due to deep rooted issues in the entire supply chain of rice trade of the country.

Jawed Ali Ghori, chairman, Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP), told Dawn that Pakistan has to work hard for improving its supply chain of rice if it wants to keep its share in the world market.

There is an urgent need for evolving new and better quality seeds for introducing new varieties of rice.

For the last so many decades, no research has been carried out for evolving new varieties of rice seeds and this has resulted in export of poor quality rice from Pakistan.

Similarly, Mr Ghori said that entire supply chain of rice which starts from seed, farming, harvesting, de-husking etc is in a shambles and this is the main reason that exporters fetch less value for Pakistan rice in the world market.

Another rice exporter, Mahboob Ahmed, said that India has evolved several new varieties with the latest known 1121 is a long grain and also has good taste. Above all, Indian exporters keep innovating rice product and after introducing parboiled rice in the world market, now moved to steam technology which gives their exports an edge over Pakistani exports in the world market, he added.

Even on facing all such odds, he said, our exporters are still performing, but there is an urgent need from researchers and regulators to introduce new varieties of rice and also check entire supply chain so that specifications at all levels are maintained to ensure quality of rice for exports.

Unfortunately, the country even failed to fetch higher foreign exchange on export of Irri-6 variety during the period under review.

According to official figures, around 2.672m tonnes were exported during July-May period of current fiscal year as against 2.608m tonnes in the corresponding period last fiscal year. Consequently, there was a 2pc increase in exports in term of quantity.

However, lesser per tonne price fetched by exporters for Irri-6 resulted in reduced foreign exchange earning which stood at $1.127bn as against $1.169bn earned in the same period last fiscal year.

This means that $42.325m less or 40pc was earned over last fiscal year.

It is disturbing that even after exporting higher quantity by around 64,587 tonnes (Irri-6) or 2pc over the corresponding period last fiscal year, the country earned 4pc less foreign exchange at $1.127bn.

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