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February 10, 2018

Rice exports cross $1 billion mark in seven months


February 10, 2018

KARACHI: Rice exports significantly grew 29 percent to $1 billion during the first seven months of the current fiscal year as orders from African countries increased after slowdown of Indian cargoes, an industry official said on Friday.

“This year (July-January) we exported a total of 2.28 million tons of rice amounting to $1.06 billion, whereas last fiscal year in the same period we had exported 1.971 million tons worth $820 million,” Rafique Suleman, senior vice chairman of Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (Reap) said in a statement. Export grew 15 percent in terms of quantity during the period.

Suleman said the exporters have come out of a three-year crisis “after rigorous efforts and marketing”.

Rice exports faced a decline of 14.62 percent during July-January 2016/17 over the same period in 2015/16; although share of rice in food exports stood at 43 percent during July-January 2016/17, the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics data showed.

“Reap members are putting in their untiring efforts and (doing) aggressive marketing to increase the rice exports and to earn valuable foreign exchange,” Suleman said.

Kenya was the largest buyer of Pakistani rice and during the seven months of the current fiscal year, Pakistan exported 284,000 tons of rice amounting to $102 million to African country.

Suleman was optimistic that the country would reach the rice export target of four million tons with the $2 billion mark.

“The rice traders are (also) focusing on European countries,” he said. “Due to the excess limit of pesticide residue found in Indian rice, India might lose the markets in the European Union.”

European Union introduced new fungicide rule that is likely to hurt Indian rice exports to the European markets as 80 percent of Indian rice is unpolished and vulnerable to pesticides. Besides, Indian exporters are now catering to growing appetite in Bangladesh after flooding hit crops in its neighbouring country.

Reuters said the boost in shipments from the world’s top exporter of the grain “is set to extend into 2018 as Bangladesh and Sri Lanka continue to buy aggressively amid depleting inventories in No.2 exporter Thailand”.

Reap senior vice president said it would be a good opportunity for Pakistani rice exporters.

Pakistan is the world’s 11th largest rice producer with annual production of around six million tons.

The industry official requested the concerned departments of the government to extend their support and facilitate rice traders, “so they can increase rice exports to the European countries”.

Suleman expressed concern over decline in rice exports to China, which used to be the 2nd largest destination for Pakistani rice exporters.

“At the end of January 2018, only 186,000 tons of rice valuing $61 million (were) exported to China,” he said.

Suleman urged the authorities at the ministry of commerce to highlight this matter in the negotiations during the 2nd round of Pakistan-China free trade agreement and to obtain maximum favour for Pakistani rice.

The official said the international demand for rice has now been increased around the globe. “This year we had a very good crop in terms of quality and quantity,” the senior vice chairman said. The industry official said the price of the Pakistani rice is comparatively cheaper to competitors such as Thailand and Vietnam. “Pakistani rice exporters are making huge investments for installing the latest rice machinery and modern technology for value-addition in rice.”

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