RICE PRODUCTION, CONSUMPTION AND EXPORT

When we produce world's best quality rice, we must restrain other countries to play foul with our exports and the image of Pakistani products in the international market.

M.R. CHAUDHRY
Apr 02 - 08, 2007

Rice is a dietary staple grain of more than half of the world's population. Rice is both an export and food crop. As its cultivation is very much labour intensive and requires plenty of water for irrigation, rice cultivation suits those countries and regions where labour is cheap and where there are heavy rainfalls and adequate supply of irrigation water. After maize (corn) and wheat, rice is the world's third largest crop.

Rice is often grown in paddies i.e. in shallow puddles. Rice crop requires more water than other crops. Historians believe that rice was grown as early as 5000 B.C. In the recorded history of China (2400 BC), Sheng Nungs, the Chinese emperor realized the importance of rice as food for his people and used to celebrate rice ceremony annually. Even today Chinese celebrate this festival for one day in the new year.

There are 119 rice producing countries. China topped the world in rice production during 2005-06. Its production was 184,254,000 metering tons, equal to 30.01 per cent of the world's total production. In Pakistan rice is grown as a Kharif crop and Pakistan's share in the world is 1.20 per cent. Pakistan stands at 12th number with other largest rice producing countries.

Following is table of 15 largest rice producing countries; their production and percentage share.

MAJOR RICE PRODUCING COUNTRIES

S.#

COUNTRY

PRODUCTION (MT)

% SHARE

1

China

184,254,000

30.01

2

India

129,000,000

21.01

3

Indonesia

53,984,592

8.79

4

Bangladesh

40,054,000

6.52

5

Viet Name

36,341,000

5.92

6

Thailand

27,000,000

4.40

7

Myanmar

22,000,000

3.58

8

Phillippines

14,800,000

2.41

9

Brazil

13,140,900

2.14

10

Japan

10,989,000

1.79

11

United States of America

10,012,190

1.63

12

Pakistan

7,351,000

1.20

13

Korea, Republic of

6,418,000

1.05

14

Egypt

6,200,000

1.01

15

Cambodia

4,200,000

0.68

 

Sub Total

564,744,682

92.13

 

Other countries

48,316,303

7.87

 

Total

614,060,985

100

Source: FAO

During the year 2005-06 the world's average yield was 40.51 maunds (maund = 40 kgs) per acre. Yield-wise Pakistan stands at Sr. No.61 having an average yield of 29.75 maunds per acre.

WORLD RICE YIELD DURING 2005-06

S.#

COUNTRY

YIELD 40 KG. PER ACRE

1

Egypt

96.50

2

Australia

87.01

3

United States of America

74.87

4

Morocco

74.34

5

Greece

73.35

6

Spain

73.14

7

Uruguay

68.50

8

Peru

67.93

9

El Salvador

67.21

10

Turkey

66.39

11

Korea, Republic of

66.26

12

Japan

66.18

13

Argentina

64.14

14

China

63.62

15

Italy

62.43

62

Pakistan

29.75

 

World Average Yield

40.51

Source: FAO

Rice is an important export item of Pakistan. The world's total export is 56,100,707 metering tons. Pakistan's percentage-wise share is 3.25 and quantity-wise 1,822,739 metering tons. Although Pakistan's yield per acre of rice is much lower than many other countries, it has almost a monopoly in export of aromatic Basmati because of its flavour and aroma. The position of top 10 rice exporting countries is given below:

RICE EXPORTING COUNTRIES

S.#

COUNTRY

EXPORT-QTY (MT)

% SHARE

1

Thailand

9,989,730

17.81

2

India

4,794,539

8.55

3

Viet Nam

4,086,700

7.28

4

United States of America

3,066,765

5.47

5

Pakistan

1,822,739

3.25

6

China

897,100

1.59

7

Egypt

836,941

1.49

8

Italy

668,935

1.19

9

Uruguay

609,169

1.09

10

Spain

346,003

0.62

 

Sub Total

27,112,651

48.33

 

Other countries

28,988,056

51.67

 

Total

56,100,707

 

Source: FAO

About 96 percent Basmati produced in Pakistan is grown in Punjab. The environment and soil over there is suitable for maintaining the quality and aroma of Basmati. Its demand is very high in the national and international market.

When we produce the best quality of rice in the world, we must restrain other countries to play foul with our exports and image of Pakistan and Pakistani products in the international market. It has been noticed that our Basmati rice exported in U.A.E. sometime ago was packed in 5-kg packs, branded and sold as Indian rice. It has also been reported in the newspapers that India was going to have Basmati registered as Indian rice variety while our authorities were in doldrums to have Pakistani Basmati registered or not. We should never compromise over our genuine national and economic interests.

Our average annual export of rice is $1.27 billion worth, which is declining due to absence of government's long term policy and other various factors. The government wanted to increase the export this year but due to shortfall in the production because of strong winds, heavy rains followed by floods in Punjab and Sindh, production suffered a shortage at about 10 percent as compared to last year's production. One of these factors include alarming increase in our population. In order to meet the needs of our speedily growing population and also to increase our exports of rice, the area under cultivation needs to be increased through improved programmes by soil conservation and development of barani (rain-fed areas). Water is a great constraint. The remedy lies in wise, judicious and scientific water management.

To regulate our irrigation system efficiently, we need big water reservoirs like Kala Bagh Dam, most of which have not yet come out of the files to be visible on ground at any stage. If this situation continues, our future generations would gravely fall short of food items, including wheat and rice, because of water shortage.

In Northern Areas of Pakistan and in barani (rain-fed) areas, Barani Village Development Project (BVDP) started construction of some water and soil conservation structures. One such structure costs US$500 to $1000 with elaborate masonry cost. If this project succeeds with the support of the government, barani area measuring about one million hectares could be brought under cultivation, which would substantially increase the production of wheat, rice and other food crops. Our water management experts should evolve technologies and methodologies to save rain water, which goes waste in abundance and that resource can be harnessed usefully and profitably. Then there are flood recession cropping areas estimatedly measuring 1,230,552 hectares, called Sailabi land. This irrigation is carried out on extensive tracts of land along the rivers and hill torrents. It utilizes the moisture retained in the root zone after the floods and torrents subside. It is also supplemented by the sub-irrigation due to the capillary rise of ground water and rainfalls. Government's special attention is required to support the farmers to evolve a viable and effective irrigation system, which would help a long way in cultivating the above mentioned vast areas of land to acquire food sufficiency and also to meet our export targets. As the financial position of our farmers is not sound, they should be given both soft loans and extension service to rehabilitate these lands and use techniques and methods to make the best use of the irrigation water.

The demand in the world has very much surpassed the supply due to overall short production of rice in the world. The export target for the year 2006-07 was fixed at $1.27 billion but it is hard to achieve or even to achieve almost equivalent to last year's exports.

Our rice exporters also have their grievances to be redressed, some of which are recounted here for consideration of the authorities:

While the government allows zero per cent rate on Sales Tax under SRO $25(1)/2006 on leather, textiles, carpets and sophisticated goods, rice export deserves to be treated alike as rice exporters have to import package material to meet the quality standards.

Export of Basmati takes 8-12 months to be matured. Thus it is required to be stored in warehouses and fumigated as a preventive measure against infestation, besides proper ventilation. Exporters feel that as it takes almost one year for the entire cash cycle to be completed, it would be appropriate if export realization period is doubled from 180 days to 360 days. This request merits serious consideration of the authorities.

Export Financial Scheme should be revised on matching basis. The State Bank of Pakistan should accordingly revise the condition of financing on matching basis, which is presently twice the value. This is a genuine request of the rice exporters.

Zero rate Sales Tax on utilities and packaging material be allowed for export of rice at par with other export industries.

The government should allow R&D based support on FOB value for rice exporters as well, under brand names.

The State Bank of Pakistan allowed textile exporters one time opportunity to refinance/swap their long term loans for plant and machinery. Similarly, rice exporters should also be provided with the facility to refinance their long term loans and leases of plant and machinery.

The terms allowed under LTF-EOP Scheme should also be extended to rice exporters for construction of ware-houses/storage facilities to enable them acquire sufficient capacity to maintain stock levels and to fulfill their contractual obligations.

- As there was an over-all short production of rice in the world, as also in India, the demand has increased and supply position being short, the international price of rice has gone up from $600 per ton to $800 per ton. In order to increase production and the scope of exports in future, the government should increase the rate of the support price of rice reasonably much earlier i.e. at the time of sowing so that farmers should work hard and hard to achieve the government's target of production and export.