Pakistan to export rice worth $2 billion this year

Despite a short fall of about 1.5 million tons in rice production due to devastating floods, Pakistan will be able to export rice worth $2 billion during FY 2010-2011.

Former Chairman Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (Reap) and a prominent rice exporter, Azhar Akhtar, told Business Recorder on Saturday that Pakistan has about 0.8 million tons of milled rice worth $800 millions as a carryover of the previous crop.

He said the demand of Pakistan’s superior quality basmati rice is picking up in the international market at a rate of $1050 to $1100 per ton.

Akhtar said though the unprecedented floods have damaged rice over 7,08,000 hectares area out of the total of 2.64 million hectors, especially in Sindh, yet Pakistan is likely to produce about 5 millions tons of basmati and other rice varieties this season against the target of 6 million tons of rice.

The country consumes about 2.2 million tons annually and exports the surplus quantity of rice.

President Basmati Growers Association Hamid Malhi said that rice crop was badly damaged in South Punjab and Sindh in the recent floods, yet the farmers of central and northern Punjab are likely to harvest a bumper rice crop this year.

He said the farmers have started harvesting of non-basmati rice whereas harvesting of the basmati rice will start in November. He estimated that Pakistan would have a surplus of more than 3 million tons exportable rice during 2010-2011.

It may be mentioned here that rice is Pakistan’s third biggest crop after wheat and cotton and contributes about 1.6 percent to the gross domestic product.

The country had a bumper crop of 6.7 million tons of milled rice in 2009-10 and exported about 4.5 million tons.