LAHORE: The rice sector is eyeing to increase its exports to $10 billion over the next five years on the back of a regular increase in exp­o­rtable surplus with growing per acre paddy yield.

Data suggests that rice exports would be around 4.5 million tonnes, fetching $2.5 billion in export proceeds during 2023.

The export volume increase has been made possible thanks to the production of 9m tonnes of rice, the second highest in the country’s history, due to favourable weather, growers’ resilience, water and fertiliser availability and new markets, says Hamid Malik, an expert of the rice sector.

A critically important aspect is historically higher Basmati production with maximum plantation of premium quality C1121 variety in Pakistan as compared to India where 1509 Basmati is the leading variety. This gives a rare opportunity to exporters to ship higher premium quality at less price than India’s as domestic rates remained 28pc low in November (peak Basmati arrival month) as compared to India, he says.

Pakistan Hitech Hybrid Seed Association Chair­man and member of the Export Advisory Council (non-textile) Shahzad Ali Malik says that rice exports alone can fetch $10bn by 2028 as rice production is continuously on the rise, making available more exportable surplus and that he had discussed a roadmap in this regard in a recent meeting of the council.

The rice export may go up to $5bn by 2025 under the roadmap, he adds.

Referring to the quantum jump in rice production in Sindh, he says that to date only Sindh has cultivated hybrid varieties, while the whole of Punjab is still open for the production of extra-long grain hybrid varieties to provide a large export surplus.

Published in Dawn, December 21st, 2023

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