Despite strong bilateral relations between Pakistan
and brethren country Saudi Arabia, it is amazing that India occupies the
lion's share in the rich Saudi market be it service sector or commodity
Obviously, it's a failure on the part of the people
responsible for carving a place for Pakistan products in the export
market. The failure becomes more painful especially in the Muslim
Saudi Arabian market, which is a major consumer of
par boiled basmati rice, is hundred percent occupied by the Indian
exporters for their better and aggressing marketing campaign which
includes quality of the products as well as services.
It is amazing despite knowing the fact that Saudi
Arabia and other Middle Eastern states are major consumer of par boiled
basmati rice, Pakistan's rice exports were restricted to only two
varieties i.e. Irri and Basmati. Which naturally gave a walkover to the
Indian exporters to take advantage of the situation? They are also
producing more par boiled rice in view of the demand of the buyers.
Pakistan, it may be noted, produces over 4.8 million
tons mainly Irri in the province of Sindh and Basmati in Punjab. Out of
the total crop, over 50 percent is exported. The par boiled rice (joshi)
produced in the country is consumed locally.
Recently, Pakistan has succeeded in getting export
orders for 30,000 tons of par boiled rice to Saudi Arabia, which is
certainly a big achievement especially in the face of strong hold of
Indian exporters in that market.
The board has also strongly suggested increasing
production of par boiled rice to add more varieties in the export
manifesto of Pakistan.
The authorities including Rice Advisory Board and
Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) have finally taken notice of lagging in
that particular variety.
In this respect, the Rice Advisory Board is taking
steps for improvement in the availability of quality seed to the farmers
in all the four provinces to ensure better quality rice crop in
The board has directed that a project for production
of hybrid seed of rice in Sindh be included in the annual development
program and that the required technical manpower for it made available.
In the backdrop of the threatened action by the
European Union against the rice exports of Pakistan, the board discussed
the proposals to redress the situation. The Ministry of Food and
Agriculture has drawn the Board's attention on the production of quality
rice to the satisfaction of the buyer as well as to enhance the export
base for this major export item from Pakistan.
The agriculture lands and the environment both are
ideally suited for rice cultivation in Pakistan. At present, per acre
yield is much below the world measures of per acre yield in the country.
According to experts, one of the major reasons of low
yield was identified as sparse plant population. As against the required
80,000 plants per acre, in the farm, the average population of plants
was 55,000-60,000 plants per acre.
Noting that the export of Basmati rice to the Middle
East was improving, the rice board stressed the need of encouraging the
installation of par-boiled rice plants so as to fetch greater share of
par-boiled rice market in Saudi Arabia.
To minimize losses suffered in rice production, the
board directed that the cultivation of DR-98, a fine grain variety of
Sindh, and PK-386 in Punjab be banned and the implementation of this
decision ensured strictly.
The provincial governments have also been advised to
approve new rice varieties only after strict evaluation for quality and
ascertaining their distinctness from existing varieties. It was also
underlined in the meeting that strengthening of rice research institutes
now functioning in the provinces. Under another decision, the
government, would arrange for a number of selected growers to visit the
countries distinguished for higher yields of rice.
While reviewing the supply situation of rice, the
meeting noted with satisfaction that the country was self-sufficient in
rice. Out of the output of 4.8 million tons, 50 percent was available
for every year.
In an effort to expand the export base of rice,
Pakistan has formally approached the Chinese government, seeking
quarantine certificate to introduce its high quality rice in the Chinese
Negotiations are underway with the Chinese officials
to get permission to penetrate into Chinese market. It may be noted that
China itself a rice producing country, yet in the face of huge
consumption at home, the Chinese government has import rice to meet its
food requirement. Currently, the bulk of rice is imported from Thailand.
Last year China imported over 300,000 tons of Thai rice. However, as far
as the quality of rice was concerned, the rice produced in Pakistan is
much better to than rice imported from Thailand. Since some Chinese
companies have shown their keen interest in Pakistani basmati, there are
strong possibilities that Pakistan can make its place in that market in
Currently, China's rice stocks have drastically gone
down due to decline in rice production for the last four year. Recently,
Chinese officials have announced to enhance their rice import to ensure
sustainable food supply in the country.