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Pakistan Basmati export, unit price up in 2002-03
ISLAMABAD, Sept 20: The year 2002-03 was the year of a special boon for exporters of basmati rice in that the quantity of its export as well as its unit price soared the highest, as compared to the previous nine years.
During that year, according to the latest figures available from the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock (MINFAL), the country exported 716,726 tons or 30.30 per cent more than during the preceding year, while the unit price jumped by nearly 135 per cent.
In view of the fact that during 1994-95, the country had exported 452,300 tons of basmati, the exports recorded an increase of 58.46 per cent during the nine-year period under review.
The exports of rice, however, have been subject to vicissitudes. Thus a record quantity of 716,392 tons was exported in 1995-96. During the following year (1996-97), however, exports of basmati plummeted to a level as low as 457,245 tons. This denoted a drop of over 36.17 per cent from the preceding year (1995-96).
During the next three-year period (1997-98 to 1999-2000), the exports rose steadily, reaching the level of 569,823 tons by June 2000. But the two years (2000-01 and 2001-02) witnessed a sharp reversal of the trend.
In 2001-02, its exports plunged 11.89 per cent to 502,061 tons. The year 2001-02 did show some improvement (550,033 tons), but it was a far cry from the preceding four years.
UNIT PRICE: But the rate at which the proceeds from export of basmati have multiplied was far in excess of the rate of increase in quantitative figure of export. During 2002-03, the export proceeds are reported as Rs21,077.21 million. This is nearly 272 per cent more than 1994-95 when the export receipts had amounted to Rs5677.60 million.
The period thus witnessed a phenomenal increase from Rs12,553 per ton in 1994-95 to Rs29,408 per ton in 2002-03, recording an increase of nearly 135 per cent.
A water-intensive crop, rice production too is characterized by significant changes in area under its cultivation and yield. During 2002-03, the area brought under rice was 2,226,000 hectares, denoting an increase of 5.3pc over the preceding year.
The sharp drop of 5.5pc and 11.1pc during 2000-01 and 2001-02, respectively, however, more than nullified the gains of the preceding two years (1998-99 and 1999-2000) and of 2002-03, which recorded an aggregate increase of 13.7pc.
The reason was, of course, severe drought accompanied by sharp reduction in the quantum of water in rivers.
Highest source of foreign exchange in 'food group' though, the per hectare yield of rice remains fragile. The reason cited bythe experts for this is myopic attitude of those holding the government's purse strings.
Thus the rice, as most other crops, remains vulnerable to all kinds of exigencies such as climatic changes, pests, inappropriate soil conditions and so on.
The year, which registered the highest increase in acreage of rice was 1999-2000. The area brought under rice in that year was 2,515,000 hectares, 3.8pc more than during the preceding year (1998-99). The yield in that year was also the highest - 2,050 kg per hectare.
All the subsequent years witnessed sharp decline. In 2002-03, the yield was calculated as 2,012 kg per hectare in spite of improved water availability during the months of May, June and July of 2002.
As regards 2003-04, according to the MINFAL statistics, the area under rice is 2.4 million hectares, which is 8pc more than previous year. Observers of the crop expect higher yields from the next harvest. They base their optimistic prognosis on heavy rains during the crucial months of current year.
It is expected that the rising trend of unit price of rice would have encouraged the farmers to apply adequate quantities of inputs. In order to obtain optimal potential of rice and sugarcane, however, the government would have to increase its allocations for research on ways to raise the yields, they point out.
MGR Archive 23.9.2003
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