ISLAMABAD: The overall production of rice has been estimated to reach at 6.16 million tons during the year 2011-12, showing an increase of 28 per cent over the production of the same period of previous year, official sources told APP.
“Following the remarkable increase in the production of the crop, the rice exports from the country are expected to grow considerably during the current fiscal (2012-13),” Official sources in the Ministry of National Food Security and Research.
The ministry is of the view that it was due to prudent and pro-farmer policies of the government that rice exports from Pakistan remained over US $ 2 billion each for the last four years consecutively.
Giving break up, the sources added that during 2007-08 Pakistan earned US $ 1.836 billion, in 2008-09, $ 1.983 billion, in 2009-10, $2.160 billion, in 2010-11 $.2.160 billion and in 2011-12 the country exported rice worth $ 2.061 billion.
The sources said that in the year 2009-10 rice was cultivated at an area of 2.88 million hectares that resulted in the production of 6.88 million tons, in 2010-11 rice was cultivated at an area of 2.37 million hectare that produced 4.82 million tons and similarly in 2011-12 rice was cultivated at an area of 2.57 hectares with 6.16 million tons production.
They said that Rice is the major cash and important food crop of the country after wheat crop and rice production comprises 40 per cent of basmati (fine) and 60 per cent of coarse types.
The government, they added, during 2008-09 and 2009-10 intervened in order to support farmers as the rice price hit the rock bottom due to bumper crop and plummeting international rice price.
Highlighting the major issues, the sources said that in view of good returns of the rice crop, the sources said that there is spread of basmati varieties in non-basmati zone.
“It may affect basmati rice exports in the long run as the Basmati produced in non-basmati zone lacks aroma”, they observed.
The sources added that due to higher yield of hybrid rice, farmers are also shifting the Irri-6 to hybrid rice and the hybrid rice quality is low compared to Irri types.
They further said that rice crop is low in productivity and production is affected by water shortage and there are enormous post harvest losses and issue of Afflatoxin which affect crop value and quality especially in case of rice export.
They stressed the need for more investments in general research and development in rice for further increasing its production.
The sources said that Pakistani basmati rice was one of the top rice commodities all over the world, but the exports of this rich rice commodity witnessed sharp decline of 14.87 per cent during the last fiscal year 2011-12 as compared to the previous year.
The country could manage to export only US$819.588 million basmati rice during 2011-12 as compared to the exports of US$962.703 million during the previous year.
According to Basmati Growers Association (BAG), Pakistan has an export potential of four billion dollars in basmati rice which needed to be exploited for earning foreign currency and help develop economy.
An official of the BGA said that rice has the potential to become a high value asset for Pakistan's economy; however it needed value addition in its production to harness optimal utilization.
On the other hand, there has been manifold increase in the exports of the basmati rice from the country, according to the data of Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (Reap).