LAHORE: The Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) has decided to prepare a road map to explore and enter new markets in a bid to boost rice exports.
“We should focus on long-term planning with short-term targets to enhance Basmati exports. Keeping in view the challenges and opportunities for rice exporters, REAP will focus on Vision 2020 as a first initiative for our long-term planning,” newly-elected REAP chairman Javed Ali Ghori said while delivering his speech to the body’s 14th Annual General Meeting.
“We will soon send delegations to different countries to explore new markets for Pakistani Basmati rice,” Ghori said. “Our initial target will be to increase our exports to $2.5 billion, from the current $2 billion,” he said.
Rice exports from Pakistan in fiscal 2012 crossed 3.7 million tons, valued at $2.08 billion at an average price of $871 per ton for Basmati rice, and $448 per ton for non-Basmati rice.
“It is an achievement that despite tough international competition with India – which reduced prices by up to $200 per ton – rice exports from Pakistan managed to cross 3.7 million tons,” said Safdar Mehkari, outgoing REAP chairman.
“We focussed on new markets for Pakistani rice,” he said. “We have worked with concerned government authorities for rice exports to India, Iran and other countries. Rice imported into India is subjected to around 70% import duties and taxes, while this is about 14% in Pakistan, he said. “A level tariff between the two countries is essential. REAP has suggested a zero import duty between the two countries,” he added.
“In order to boost rice exports from Pakistan to Mauritius, and upon request by Pakistan’s High Commission in Mauritius, REAP acceded to the Mauritius authorities’ request to train their staff in order to build their capacity in Basmati rice testing. Officials will soon visit Pakistan in this regard,” Mehkari said.
“To secure REAP members against the risks of exporting rice to Iran, the body met with the State Bank governor in April in Karachi to finalise modalities which will also safeguard Pakistan and its financial system’s interests, he said. “We are hopeful that we will soon start rice export to Iran.”
“The production of ‘Super Basmati’ rice has reduced drastically, so we need to prioritise this matter for the betterment of trade. Meetings have been conducted with the Nuclear Institute for Agriculture and Biology to encourage scientists to produce Super Basmati seed of high yield and quality. A MoU in this regard will soon be finalised,” Mehkari added.
“The government should provide subsidies to paddy farmers for better quality yields. India provides around $30 billion in subsidies to its farming sector every year through subsidised Urea/DAP fertiliser, and cheap electricity for tube wells,” Mehkari suggested.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 2nd, 2012.