Friday January 27, 2023

Pakistan exports over $800m basmati rice annually

By Our Correspondent
May 21, 2021

LAHORE:Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) has shown concern over an irresponsible statement issued by Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Agriculture Jamshed Cheema that demand in export markets is mostly for coarse rice while the Pakistani farmers are intoxicated with basmati rice and should shift to production of coarse rice, while basmati rice should only be produced for local consumption.

REAP Chairman Abdul Qayyum Paracha termed SAPM's statement misleading because we export basmati rice of more than US$ 800 million every year. Trade Body of Rice Exporters is earning valuable foreign exchange of more than $ 2 billion for the country annually, he added. He alleged that SAPM seems to be supporting the Indian application in the European Union claiming exclusive ownership of the geographical indication for basmati rice that has been challenged by the Government of Pakistan as well as the basmati rice trade. Such stance by a high official of the government negates all our efforts to safeguard our heritage since centuries in basmati rice besides billions invested in rice mills, export market brand equity etc.

The REAP chairman said that due to its unique aroma our basmati rice acted as Pakistan’s ambassador globally. Pakistan’s current basmati rice exports are around $ 800 million per annum out of total $ 2.3 billion rice exported per annum. Hundreds of thousands of people in the whole supply chain of basmati rice starting from farmers to millers to exporters to work force to international brand owners are dependent on its sowing. The REAP has announced a reward of Rs 10 million to any rice breeder, government or private sector, who comes up with high productivity basmati rice new seed.

Instead of encouraging research and yield increase in basmati crop which has a potential of more than $ 3 billion export annually, Jamshed is discouraging sowing of this heritage product.

This is a matter of great concern that already REAP and Govt of Pakistan are fighting a battle against India regarding Basmati GI Tag in European Union and such irresponsible statements by people sitting on highest echelons of Pakistan will jeopardise our case in European Union, he said.