China has emerged as one of the prime destinations for Pakistan's rice exports as reflected in a 244% increase in shipments to the neighbouring country over the last four years, said Pakistan-China Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCJCCI) President SM Naveed.
Talking to representatives of Chinese trade companies on Friday, he said that the aim of exporting 10 million tons of Irri-6 rice to China could be met if targeted efforts were made to market the commodity in Beijing.
"New hybrid rice varieties are being developed in Pakistan, which will yield a higher output while minimising input costs amid water scarcity," he said.
He pointed out that the Rice Research Institute had developed new techniques to cultivate rice through the "broadcasting system" instead of manual sapling plantations.
Elaborating, he said that under the technique, if farmers succeeded in planting 80,000 plants in a field, they would get more production and save input costs by up to Rs14,000 per acre.
PCJCCI Senior Vice President Daud Ahmed said that the new rice production technique, based on the broadcasting system, was not only cheaper but would also help save 30-35% of irrigation water.
He called for disseminating information about the technique at the broader level in villages of the country.
He also urged the government and authorities concerned to organise training programmes for farmers in this regard.
PCJCCI Vice President Khalid Raffique Choudhry said that the response of Chinese importers to Pakistan's rice was overwhelming compared to rice imports from Thailand and Vietnam.
"Our rice industry is not operating at its full potential due to some internal barriers related to planning and strategic implementation," he regretted.
"Rice exporters deserve patronage of the government like the textile industry for developing the segment as one of the major foreign exchange earners of Pakistan."
PCJCCI Secretary General Salahuddin Hanif revealed that the chamber would launch a concrete drive to market Pakistani rice in China by creating personalised demand among Chinese residents. "We are exploring new techniques to improve the quality of rice," he said.
"Chinese buyers prefer rice with good milling quality, hence the PCJCCI will act as a bridge between Chinese and Pakistani entrepreneurs in this sector to increase demand for Pakistani rice in the neighbouring market."