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Shortage of Irri-6 hampering rice exports
Daily Times, Karachi, Dec 10, 2003
KARACHI: A shortage of the Irri-6 variety of rice is hampering the potential for export since a large amount of demand is going unmet, exporters have said.

“There is a demand of around 150,000 tones of Irri-6 rice with the local exporters at the moment, but the growers are holding the commodity and are not supplying it to the market,” said Muhammad Hasanali, an exporter of Irri-6. “The demand of this quality would remain till December, after which the rice of Vietnam, to be harvested in January 2004, would spread all over the world and create a price war.”

Exporters have blamed growers in Sindh and Punjab for creating an artificial shortage in an effort to boost prices.

However, Mr Hasanali said that the growers have eased the supply of Sindh origin Basmati D-98 to the millers, anticipating a drop in price. “They are giving priority to this variety while they are holding Irri-6 paddy, resulting in the low arrival of Irri-6,” he said.

According to the figures released by the rice commissioner in Islamabad, the total production of rice in the country this year was around 4.871 million tones, cultivated on 2.450 million hectares, against a target of 4.304 million tones on 2.230 million hectares.

The total production of rice remained around 1.49 million tonnes in Sindh against a target of 1.37 million tonnes. The main reason of the higher production of rice in the province was the use of 68,000 hectares land against a target of 494,000 hectares.

The production of Basmati export quality rice remained 2.21 million tonnes against a target of 2.02 million tones in Punjab, while Irri and other varieties remained around 566,000 tonnes. Around 1.667 million hectares of irrigation land was used in the total rice production of 2.778 million tonnes of Punjab.

The rice production in NWFP remained at 135,000 tonnes on 614,000 hectares, while the production of rice in Balochistan remained around 461,200 tonnes.

Mr Hasanali said that there was an unbalanced cultivation of Basmati rice in Punjab, adding that the ministry of food, agriculture and livestock (MinFAL) should boost the cultivation of Basmati-385 rice because of its higher export demand.

Further, he said that the rice blenders (mixers) are happy with the new addition - Super Irri-9 - a new variety introduced by the rice growers of Sindh, which has been well accepted throughout the country. This quality is being sold Rs 5,000 a tonne higher than Basamati-386.

Zulfikar Thaver, another rice exporter, said India is still out of the international market, because of firm prices in Vietnam and Thailand, and added that the coarse rice market will not fall till after Vietnam winter harvest (January 2004).

Mr Thaver said there is great demand of the Basmati-385 rice, but it has not been cultivated for export purposes, while super Basmati has been grown more. “There is also a demand for Irri-9 and 386 and in Sindh, but we have grown D-98, which is aromatic and is catching on in the world market,” he added.
MGR Archive 9.12.2003
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