Value-addition is the
answer to enhance earnings in rice sector
By AMANULLAH BASHAR
May 13 -19, 2002
Rice a cash crop of Pakistan which adds
considerably to the foreign exchange earnings of the country, is
feared to register a decline in exports mainly due to drought-led
shortfall in the crop this year.
The size of the crop last year was estimated at
4.74 million tons, which has gone down to the size of 4 million tons
in the current crop. Out of the total crop, around 2.5 million is
required for local consumption while a good quantity of rice as well
as wheat goes to neighbouring Afghanistan through unreported trade.
Under the present scenario, the surplus rice for export purposes will
not be available in accordance with the demand, sources said.
Basmati rice is a variety of the rice grown in
fertile lands of Punjab irrigated by snow-fed rivers of Himalayas. The
word 'Basmati' in fact is a combination of two different words that is
'Bas' which means fragrance and 'Mati' means soil. It is a product of
the soil as such type of rice having fragrance can not be produced
elsewhere except the Basmati producing belt especially in the west
Punjab and some parts of the Eastern Punjab in India. Aged Basmati
rice of one to two years old will grow its length twice, after cooking
giving fragrance and delicious taste. Basmati rice is easy to digest,
cholesterol free, Gluten free, low in salt and contains only a trace
Qaiser Shaikh while commenting on the qualities of
Basmati rice said that we can double the size of our exports in rice
in terms of money provided modern marketing techniques are used.
He said that generally Basmati is exported in loose
form because our exporters have not developed a brand culture in rice
products so far.
Marketing of our rice in the international market
under the brand name means that we would double our exports in terms
of value. In order to move in that direction, Qaiser Ahmed Shaikh,
former President of Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry and
leader of the independent members of the last national assembly, has
gone into a joint venture with a Malaysian firm Bernas. Bernas is a
Malaysian food conglomerate, with staff of over 4000 and listed with
the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange with its regional network in Africa,
Australia, Thailand, China, Myanmar and Vietnam.
Under this joint venture a most modern rice mill
has been established in Karachi which is called :Qaiser-Noman Bernas'
Private Limited. This is the first project of its kind where rice are
polished, re-polished, sorted out and graded with the requirement of
the world market.
QNB has a turnover of around Rs1.17 billion during
the year 2000-2001 with a quantity of over 90,000 tons as compared to
the year 2000 and 1999 which Rs682.460 million and Rs907.154 million
respectively. This shows a percentage increase of 71 and 28 per cent
compared to the year 2000 and 1999 respectively. QNB is the first
company in Pakistan to have Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP)
certification from UK. HACCP is an internationally accepted
methodology to reduce and manage risks associated with food
processing. It is a preventive system for food safety that addresses
chemical, physical and biological risks. QNB also have ISO-9002
certification and is working on ISO-14000.
This type of modernization efforts being done by
QNB in fact should the source of inspiration for other companies
engaged in export business to help establishing credibility of the
country as the producer of quality products.
It is however appreciable that the government has
completely come out of the rice business and it is being controlled
entirely by the private sector. Since the arrival of the private
sector, Pakistan's image as quality rice producing country is being
reestablished in the world market. The international price of Basmati
from Pakistan has also registered an increase and hopefully will
continue to march ahead.
Besides concentrating on rice marketing under brand
name, the exporters should also look into the possibility of other
varieties of rice such as 'Joshi' which has a great demand in the
world market. So far Pakistan has not exported a single grain of Joshi
rice while India's major export in rice depends on Joshi rice.
VARIETIES ARE PRODUCED IN PAKISTAN:
Basmati 385 (In Brown, While
and Par-Boiled Rice),
PK-386, IRRI-6, IRRI-9 and
In the previous year, Pakistan exported around 2.1
million tons of rice as compared to 1.9 million tons exported by India
who is the major competitor of Pakistani rice in the world market. The
reason for lower export by India was the bad crop. However, unlike a
good yield last year, the situation is quite different this time as
India have a much better crop of rice while farming sector in Pakistan
suffered due to persistent drought like conditions, said Qaiser Ahmed
Shaikh, one of the leading rice exporters in the country.
He said that the export figures in rice indicate
that the amount exported by Pakistan up to March 2002 were estimated
at 0.4 million tons as against the level of 0.9 million tons achieved
by India this time.