Bumper rice crop fuels hopes for record-breaking export

Published November 30, 2021
The average export prices of basmati and coarse rice are $870 per tonne and $490 per tonne. — AFP/File
The average export prices of basmati and coarse rice are $870 per tonne and $490 per tonne. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: The country has achieved a bumper rice crop of about nine million tonnes this year signalling the potential of highest-ever export of the commodity, Minister for National Food Security and Research Syed Fakhr Imam said on Monday.

“The country has an exportable surplus of 8.03m tonnes worth $4.85 billion. Now that shipment disruption is easing, Pakistan should make every effort to export 8.03m tonnes and earn $4.85bn which will be $2.74bn more than that of last year. This may be the highest growth in the entire export sector this year,” Mr Imam said at a news conference in Islamabad.

He said the country is achieving record production of rice due to its policies for the past three years. Last year, Pakistan produced 8.41m tonnes of rice. By November this year, 3.1m tonnes of rice was consumed domestically and 3.34m tonnes were exported worth $2.11bn.

“It is a notable achievement due to the government’s effective support to the farmers who must be paid a tribute for their diligence and hard work for achieving this unprecedented milestone,” Mr Imam said. By next month, the total available stock of rice will be 11.43m tonnes, and after deducting 3.40m tonnes for domestic consumption, 8.03m tonnes remains exportable surplus, Mr Imam shared estimates.

Currently, the average export prices of basmati and coarse rice are $870 per tonne and $490 per tonne, respectively. At these prices, Pakistan can earn $2.1bn and $2.75bn, with the total of $4.85bn from the export of basmati and coarse rice this year.

In the fiscal year 2020-21, Pakistan exported 3.50m tonnes of rice worth $2.11bn. These rice exports were about 12 per cent lower compared to those in FY20 when Covid-19 pandemic-related disruptions hit shipments.

Pakistan is currently exporting rice to five countries including China, Kenya, United Arab Emirates, Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia. “There are several other countries where there is great potential [for exports]. Pakistani embassies and high commissions should be given the task to explore this potential,” the minister said.

Published in Dawn, November 30th, 2021

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