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Pakistan aims to quadruple rice exports by 2030

By Munawar Hasan
December 09, 2023

LAHORE: Pakistan has set an ambitious goal to boost annual rice exports to $10 billion by 2030, a fourfold increase from the current $2.5 billion, as the country seeks to diversify its export basket and tap into new markets, an industry official said on Friday.

According to deliberations of maiden Export Advisory Council Meeting, chaired by commerce minister Gohar Ejaz, held on Friday, the council discussed issues related to rice exports in length.

Commerce Minister Gohar Ejaz chairs the inaugural meeting of the Textile Export Advisory Council consisting of the top textile exporters of Pakistan on Dec 8, 2023. — PID
Commerce Minister Gohar Ejaz chairs the inaugural meeting of the Textile Export Advisory Council consisting of the top textile exporters of Pakistan on Dec 8, 2023. — PID

The minister in particular expressed desire to have a precise roadmap of elevating rice exports to magic figure of $10 billion per annum as part of overall 100 billion dollar export goal being set by the federal government, said Shehzad Ali Malik chairman of Punjab Rice Research Board and CEO of Guard Agricultural Research & Services.

Malik, who is involved in whole value chain of rice while spearheading rice research & development venture and selling final produce domestically and globally, said that Pakistan is on course to increase rice exports tremendously on the back of high-yielding hybrid rice varieties and making improvements in quality of processed grains.

He told the participants of the meeting that Pakistan rice export may climb upto $3.5 billion per annum in the ongoing financial year with concerted efforts on the front of introducing more stringent quality checks and emphasizing on brand management globally.

Malik was of the view that annual rice exports could be enhanced to 05 billion dollars in three years from present Rs2.5 billion dollar and the value could be doubled in ensuing period up to 2029-30, touching the mark of 10 billion dollars.

He stressed the need to meet quality standards of various markets including European Union. "We need to aggressively resolve issues relating to EU alerts on pesticide issues," Malik said and adding maximum residue level (MRL) needs to be checked for selling quality grains in the market.

He observed that the legally tolerated level in or on food is to be scrutinized on scientific basis especially as a result of pesticides application.

Malik recalled that KSK Rice Research Institute has already given a proposal for establishing analytical lab to make a one-window solution of MRL testing. Funds for analytical lab may be considered from Export Development Fund (EDF) with a view to scientifically assed MRL in rice produce.

Talking about promoting rice brand internationally, he said, Pakistan needs to evolve strategy for establishing brands in the global market to strive against the competitors, especially against India. For this purpose, he added, FMCG brands particularly in food category should be provided listing fee and shelf rental through TDAP in super markets from EDF.

"This will enable our FMCG brands to cater to the main stream market instead of only ethnic market. Moreover, gondola/displays should be arranged for FMCG category on selected supermarket chains at various locations by TDAP from EDF. FMCG Brands having registered trademarks in Pakistan should be provided EDF grants to meet the cost of their brands registration with IPR and trade mark registration authorities in overseas markets."

He also pointed out that commercial counsellors must focus to identify and establish contact with importers/distributors of FMCG handling international brands for introduction of Pakistan FMCG brands instead of only finding avenues for commodity importers.

"This will help establishing FMCG brands which will fetch more foreign earnings as oppose to labelling which is short term sales and foreign buyers have the choice to shift to other sources countries for price or other considerations," Malik observed.