Food exports see 23pc growth in April

Published May 18, 2024
Red meat retailers blame higher exports for a surge in the local prices in the last few years.—APP/file
Red meat retailers blame higher exports for a surge in the local prices in the last few years.—APP/file

ISLAMABAD: Raw food exports experienced a significant growth of 23.19 per cent in April, reaching $570.47 million from $463.07m during the same month last year.

As a result, consumers across the country are paying higher prices for food items. Raw food exports have climbed for the ninth consecutive month this fiscal year, despite the highest food inflation in the country’s history, according to data compiled by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS).

The commerce ministry lifted the ban on onion exports after Eidul Fitr, even though the onion price was still higher in the domestic market. There are other food items as well, exports of which also saw an increase mainly because of the devaluation of the Pak rupee.

The unchecked exports drove food inflation to a stunning 11.3pc in April as prices rose. The new fiscal year began with a negative growth of 7.56pc in the export of raw food products, but it improved to positive growth of 4.07pc in August, while export proceeds grew further by 60.89pc in September, 59.90pc in October, 60.65pc in November, 111.63pc in December, 105.29pc in January, 35pc in February and 16.35pc in March.

The overall exports of raw food products witnessed a growth of 45.61pc to $6.23bn in 10 months of the current fiscal year from $4.27bn over the corresponding period last year.

According to PBS data, the country’s rice exports rose by 80.13pc to $3.28bn on a year-on-year basis in July-April FY24 led by basmati rice, which had been falling since last year. India’s decision to impose a ban on rice exports to protect the interest of domestic consumers has emerged as a key driver behind the surge in basmati rice exports from Pakistan.

The export of basmati rice experienced a notable surge of 34.01pc, reaching $699.21m in July-April FY24 from $521.75m in the corresponding period last year. The export of non-basmati rice rose by 98.64pc to $2.58bn in July-April 2023-24 from $1.3bn in the same period last year.

India imposed a ban on the private sector for export of non-basmati rice and 20pc export tariff on parboiled rice to tame inflation which proved bonanza for Pakistan’s non-basmati rice exports, said Shamsul Islam Khan, a leading rice exporter.

Due to a sustained surge in export figures over the past two years, the average price of basmati rice has surged to Rs400 per kg from Rs150, restricting buying from domestic consumers.

After the lifting of export ban by India, globally rice prices will fall, Khan said.

Pakistan exported $430.74m worth of meat in 10MFY24, up from $346.34m over the same period last year, showing a growth of 24.37pc.

Exports of all other food products saw an increase of 21.62pc to $957.88m in 10MFY24 from $787.58m in the corresponding months last year. The export of vegetables reached $370.71m against $261.98m, an increase of 41.50pc.

Fruit exports saw a growth of 17.85pc to $274.23m in 10MFY24 against $232.70m over the corresponding months last year.

On the other hand, Pakistan imported 86,800 tonnes of wheat in April, down 40.90pc from 146,873 tonnes over the corresponding month last year.

Published in Dawn, May 18th, 2024

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