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Tuesday July 23, 2024

Rice exports exceed expectations, reach record $3.6bn

In the first nine months of fiscal year 2023-24, rice exports already broke all the previous records

By Munawar Hasan
June 17, 2024
A worker sieves a heap of rice at a wholesale market in Rawalpindi. — AFP/File
A worker sieves a heap of rice at a wholesale market in Rawalpindi. — AFP/File 

LAHORE: On the back of unprecedented increase in rice production to an all-time high of 9.9 million tons in FY24, exports of produce have jumped above expectation to US$3.6 billion during the financial year.

According to the latest data, with export of 5.59 million tons of rice, the commodity also topped the food group in external trade category. Pakistan's rice exports were pegged at $3.5 billion in the current fiscal year in export advisory council meeting, held during the interim setup. If the momentum in export was sustained in the last month of present fiscal, rice export could reach the magic figure of four billion dollars against less than $2.5 billion in the previous financial year.

In the first nine months of fiscal year 2023-24, rice exports already broke all the previous records by earning all-time high of $3 billion. Hike in rice exports have also partly been attributed to a ban imposed by India on rice exports. Overall, in July-March of FY24 period, the country earned $2.939 billion in the first nine months of this fiscal year, compared to $1.6 billion in the same period of the last fiscal year.

Non-Basmati sector is taking the lead in export earning, as its credit goes to private sector for the excellent performance in hybrid seed research and development with Chinese support.

Pakistan had announced an ambitious plan to increase annual rice exports to $10 billion by 2030, aiming for a fourfold rise from the $2.5 billion. The country is striving to broaden its export range and explore new markets.

Shehzad Ali Malik, Chairman of Punjab Rice Research Board and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Guard Agricultural Research & Services, shared the industry’s projections about external rice trade as part of developing a precise roadmap to elevate rice exports to the significant figure of $10 billion.

Malik emphasized Pakistan’s potential to significantly increase rice exports through the use of high-yielding hybrid rice varieties and enhancements in the quality of processed grains. He anticipated that Pakistan’s rice exports could reach up to $3.5 billion annually in the current fiscal year, with concentrated efforts on stricter quality controls and global brand management.

Furthermore, Malik had projected that annual rice exports could be raised to $5 billion within three years from the current $2.5 billion, and the value could double by 2029-30, reaching $10 billion. He highlighted the importance of meeting the quality standards of various markets, including the European Union, and emphasized the need to address issues related to EU alerts on pesticide matters and maximum residue levels (MRL).

Regarding the international promotion of rice brands, Malik stressed the need for Pakistan to devise strategies to establish brands in the global market, especially to compete with rivals like India. He suggested that FMCG brands, particularly in the food category, should be provided listing fees and shelf rentals through TDAP in supermarkets from EDF to support this objective.