Thursday June 20, 2024

Rice shipments jump 89.7pc to record 545,000 tonnes in March

By Shahid Shah
April 25, 2024
Representational image. — APP File
Representational image. — APP File

KARACHI: Rice exports soared to a record high in March, defying a slump in shipments to China, as African and Asian markets drove demand for the staple crop, industry officials said on Wednesday.

"During March 2024, coarse rice shipments from Pakistan to various destinations totalled 545,000 tonnes, amounting to a substantial worth of $330.453 million," said Shamsul Islam Khan, a leading rice exporter. "This marked a staggering 89.74 percent increase in value and a notable 65.95 percent surge in quantity on a year-on-year basis."

Khan said Basmati rice exports, a hallmark of Pakistani rice, also showcased a positive trend, with 72,919 tonnes valued at $82.946 million, reflecting an increase of 19.39 percent in value and 13.35 percent in quantity."Notably, historic highs were reached, with 4.005 million tonnes of coarse rice exported, marking a significant 60 percent increase compared to the same period in the previous fiscal year."

Basmati rice exports in this nine-month period reached 545,220 tonness, indicating a notable 27 percent increase compared to the corresponding period of the previous fiscal year. Consequently, Pakistan accrued a substantial sum of $2.931 billion through the export of 4.55 million tonnes of rice in the first nine months of the fiscal year 2024.

Africa, particularly Kenya, emerged as a significant destination for Pakistani rice exports during March 2024, with exports reaching 107,808.26 tonnes valued at $65.43 million. In the Far East markets, Malaysia and Indonesia were prominent buyers, while Afghanistan stood out as the largest export destination among neighbouring countries. Saudi Arabia led the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nations in rice imports from Pakistan in March 2024.

However, concerns were raised regarding the decline in exports to crucial markets such as the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and China. Pakistan’s rice exports to the UAE during March 2024 have fallen drastically to 19,157.49 tonnes valued at $16.27 million compared to shipments of 34,067.10 tonnes valued at $26.18 million made in March 2023.

During March 2024, rice exports to China dropped drastically to 2,587 tonnes valued at $1.35 million only, as compared to shipments of 43,748 tonnes valued at $19 million in March 2023.On a positive note, Oman expressed interest in boosting rice imports from Pakistan, indicating potential growth opportunities in this market. Additionally, European destinations such as the United Kingdom and Italy witnessed an uptick in rice imports from Pakistan, while Belgium saw a decline during March 2024.

Khan projected a promising outlook for Pakistan's rice export sector, estimating that the country could exceed $4.2 billion in export earnings through the shipment of 6 million tons of rice by the end of the fiscal year 2024.