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Chinese market to be explored for Pakistani rice
MULTAN, Jan 11 : Pakistan could avail a golden chance of penetrating into a safe and un-competitive Chinese market, by exporting Irri-6 variety rice to China.

This was stated by Federal Minister for Food, Agriculture and Livestock Malik Sikandar Hayat Bosan while talking to reporters here.

He said that the government was actively considering a proposal to make an attempt to penetrate into the Chinese market and supply good quality rice on competitive rates. If Pakistan succeeded in obtaining the Chinese order for rice, it would not need to explore other markets in the world, since the country would then have to concentrate on the product quality.

Bosan said optimistically that there were bright prospects of a sizeable export of Irri-6 variety rice to China. The opportunity was explored during Premier Shaukat Aziz’s recent visit to China.

The government was looking into the matter seriously for availing the option, which would not only boost rice cultivation in the country but would also enable the rice growers to get better prices for their produces, he said.

The minister rejected the rumours and impression that Kenya had increased import duty on Pakistani rice, and clarified that such an increase was not yet imposed.

However, he said that the government of Kenya was considering such an increase. He said that the government of Pakistan was fully aware of the situation and would take all possible measures to safeguard the interests of rice growers and exporters.

The minister expressed his satisfaction on the phenomenal growth in cotton production in the country this year, which set a new record. The bumper crop would have a significant impact on the national economy. He said that the sizeable cotton crop this season was advantageous for the local textile industry, which would be benefited with an abundant supply of raw material at a cheap price, which would help them compete the world market.

The sources said that Pakistan’s rice year ran from April to November, but supplies had not yet peaked as the farmers’ community, aiming for higher prices, was releasing stocks slowly.

Iraq, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and East African countries were traditional buyers of IRRI-6 from Pakistan. The fine-quality Basmati rice was popular mainly in the Middle East and Europe.

Sources said that demand for Basmati rice from the Middle East had also increased. Prices of Basmati saw a sharp increase during 2004 on the back of export orders, they said. The new crop was expected to yield 4.3 to 4.6 million tonnes, with domestic demand reaching 2.3 million tonnes.

Pakistan expected to export 1.9 million tonnes in the current fiscal year uptil June 30, against the previous year’s 1.72 million tonnes. The Irri-6 variety, mostly cultivated in Sindh, was the hardest hit, as the exporters could not face a tough competition from India, China and Vietnam.

Its export dropped by 41 percent due to a high cost in the domestic market.

A steep fall of over 28 percent in the rice export was recorded during the fiscal year 2001-02, as the country could only manage 1.287 million tonnes for exports, compared to 1.805 million tons in 2000-2001.

The drastic fall to 0.518 million tonnes in rice export resulted in lesser foreign exchange earnings, at $352.08 million, whereas during the fiscal 2000-01, the country earned $417.12 million, the figures given by the QRC inspection cell of Rice Exporters’ Association of Pakistan (REAP).

A major factor for lesser export, reckoned by exporters, was the reverse trend in the world rice market, particularly for the coarse rice, ie Irri-6 and Irri-9, coupled with non-availability of 386 variety (non-basmati) rice.

The unbalanced cultivation policy, adopted by the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock (MINFAL), resulting in shortage of such varieties, which were in great demand in the world market, owing to their cheaper price, also adversely affected exports, a rice exporter said.
MGR Archive 12.1.2005
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