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Rice exporters to capture Indian share

Faisalabad: A sharp increase in the price of Indian rice has turned international buyers to Pakistan, creating an opportunity for rice exporters to step up efforts and boost their sales in international markets.

The price of Pakistani basmati rice in international markets is $1,300 per ton, the same as last year, but the price of Indian basmati is $1,500 to $1,520 per ton.

Pakistan is the world’s leading supplier of basmati, but in the last few years it has lost its competitive edge because of price and productivity declines.

In the previous fiscal year, rice exports from Pakistan stood at $1.6 billion. In the first seven months of the current fiscal year, exports have crossed the $1 billion mark.

Rice exporters said the price of Indian rice had increased significantly this year, which encouraged foreign buyers to look towards Pakistan.

“We have been able to capture international markets, which were previously dominated by Indian exporters, and are supplying them with large quantities of different varieties,” said Taufeeq Ahmad, former vice chairman of Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan.

He added the Super Basmati variety had been replaced with Kainaat 1121, which was earlier exported by India. This year, Kainaat is being produced in bulk in Pakistan. He expected rice exports to cross the $2 billion mark by June this year.

Another factor contributing to higher exports is the demand for brown rice, known as Sindhi rice, which has a big market in Middle Eastern countries. “All these factors have positively impacted the country’s exports,” he said.

The main rice producing regions in Pakistan are Punjab and Sindh. Long-grain rice goes to countries like Kenya, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mozambique and China.

Pakistan’s traditional export markets are the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Iran. New African markets have also been tapped by the rice exporters.

Rice yield is approximately 40-50 maunds (40kg) per acre, far less than India’s yield.

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