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Export inspection body checks rice exports for residues of 22 pesticides
While Pakistan is fighting its case in the European Union against the Indian move to get Basmati rice registered as its product, the commodity is still not registered as a local product in the country.Laws require that before applying for registration of any product at the international market it has to be protected under the geographical indication (GI) laws of that country. However, there are no rules of the Geographical Indications (Registration and Protection) Act, 2020, enacted in March this year; as a result, Basmati is not yet a protected product in Pakistan. A rice exporter told Dawn that the exporters, particularly the Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan, had been urging the government since early 2000 to formulate the GI laws.
India claims before EU sole ownership of commodity“The laws were finally made in March this year, but the authorities have not yet framed the rules of GI law. As a result many local exportable products cannot be registered anywhere in the world with Pakistani GI tagging,” the exporter said. “Even now the pressure of the case at the EU is driving the authorities to finalise the rules for GI law at the earliest,” he added. The issue of protecting Basmati rice as a product of Pakistan came to the forefront after India submitted an application to the European Union claiming sole ownership of the commodity in September this year. In its application India has claimed that “Basmati” is special long grain aromatic rice grown and produced in a particular geographical region of the subcontinent. After highlighting the brief history of Basmati rice, India also claimed that the region is a part of northern India, below the foothills of the Himalayas forming part of the Indo-Gangetic plain. Incidentally, the issue was pointed out to the ministry of commerce and its attached department, the Intellectual Property Organisation (IPO) of Pakistan by the rice exporters after observing the details of fresh applications at EU website. Since the case was placed for public hearing and invitation of objections, the matter was taken up by the authorities and Adviser to the Prime Minister on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood held a meeting in October. Eventually, the Indian claim at the EU was challenged earlier this month and the main argument by Pakistan was that basmati rice was a joint product of India and Pakistan. Pakistan exported 500,000 to 700,000 tonnes of basmati rice annually to different parts of the world out of which 200,000 to 250,000 tonnes is being shipped to EU countries. Meanwhile, responding to a query IPO Spokesman Meesak Arif said that the rules of GI law were at the final stages and were likely to be notified soon. “The rules are in the printing process and will be notified by the commerce ministry soon,” Mr Arif said, adding that the government had authorised the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) as the lead agency regarding Basmati rice. Soon after the rules were notified, the TDAP would file for the GI protection of basmati rice in the country, which would eventually make the case of Pakistan at the EU and elsewhere strong, he added.
In July 2020, rice export shipments shrank to 266,206 tonnes from 365,138 tonnes in July 2019. Export earnings fell to $148.8 million from $194.5m.These numbers released recently by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) do not necessarily indicate that during this fiscal year rice exports would tumble. But they bring to the fore some inefficiencies of exporters and government-run agencies. In 2019-20, Pakistan’s rice exports fetched $2.27 billion with an annual growth rate of five per cent, according to the State Bank of Pakistan’s (SBP) foreign trade report. This increase came at a time when Pakistan’s total food export bill of about $4.36bn was down more than 5pc from $4.61bn in 2018-19, according to the PBS. For the past few months, exporters were warning the government of the damage to the paddy crop during the ongoing second locust attack. The government claims it is fighting the second locust attack more furiously than it did during the first quarter of this year. It claims that the ongoing second attack has only slightly hurt the paddy crop that is at the flowering and harvesting stage. But exporters say the damage to the paddy crop, particularly in Sindh, is being underestimated by authorities. They say rice millers started factoring this in back in July and raised the prices of rice varieties for commercial exporters who, in turn, failed to export as much as they did in July last year.
The nation can spare 4.4m tonnes for exports as domestic consumption and contingency reserves don’t require more than 3m tonnes. But it is up to the Ministry of Commerce and our exporters to find buyers for 4.4m tonnes of riceEven the mills that directly export rice failed to get as large buying orders as they did in July last year: their own cost of rice processing increased owing to the general inflationary trend and due to higher forward paddy prices paid to growers who were anticipating the crop’s damage under the second locust attack. Going forward, the future of rice export earnings depends on whether exporters can manage to export 1m-1.2m tonnes of Basmati rice and 3m tonnes or more of non-Basmati varieties. In 2018-19 as well as 2019-20, total rice shipments remained above 4m tonnes. But the exports of Basmati rice stood at 791,000 tonnes and 890,000 tonnes in 2018-19 and 2019-20, respectively. Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (Reap) Chairman Shahjahan Malik hopes that during this fiscal year Basmati rice exports would touch the 1m-tonne mark. Based on July 2020 statistics of the PBS, the average export price of Pakistani Basmati rice now hovers around $955 per tonne whereas that of non-Basmati rice is around $453 per tonne. With some effort, the average export price for Basmati and non-Basmati could be raised to $1,100-1,200 per tonne and $500-600 per tonne, respectively. If this happens — and exporters, particularly those of Basmati rice, say they are working seriously to make this happen — then rice export earnings could be enhanced substantially with a little increase in the volume of 2019-20 that was below 4.2m tonnes. According to Reap statistics, the average export price of Basmati rice had shot up to $1,153 per tonne back in 2013-14. But this level could not be sustained in later years owing to fierce competition in global markets and, in recent years, also due to a huge depreciation that reduced massive gains in exports in the local currency. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently projected that Pakistan’s milled rice output during this crop year could be 7.4m tonnes against the target of about 8m tonnes set by our Federal Committee on Agriculture. The nation can easily spare 4.4m tonnes for exports as domestic consumption and contingency reserves don’t require more than 3m tonnes. But it is up to the Ministry of Commerce and our exporters to find buyers of 4.4m tonnes of rice. This should not be a problem as lockdowns in parts of India still continue, making rice exports difficult like they were in April-June. Our exporters grabbed that opportunity during the quarter to boost rice exports. But even if Pakistani exporters get some share of Indian rice exports, particularly in the Gulf region, overall competition in global markets this year is expected to remain tough — with Vietnam having a larger exportable surplus and with stricter rules in place for clearance of import consignments at ports of buying countries amidst Covid-19 safety measures. The USDA has projected a straight 17pc increase in Vietnam’s total rice output this year. Maintaining growth momentum in rice exports during this fiscal year also depends on whether brisk shipments to the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia remain intact. They are among Pakistan’s important markets and our rice export earnings from these two countries were 18pc of the total, according to the SBP. Owing to the unfolding of deep and surprising strategic developments in the Gulf region, it is premature to predict how these developments will eventually impact our trade in the region. In 2019-20, our rice exports to China — the second largest market after the United Arab Emirates — did suffer because of Covid-19–triggered lockdowns earlier in China and later on in our own major cities. So the China factor would also determine to a great extent how our rice exports could grow in 2020-21. Exporters say that unlike the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, United States and the United Kingdom where Pakistan’s rice demand does not fall easily on price consideration, it does in China. This means that to boost rice exports to China, exporters will have to be more competitive than in the aforementioned countries. That is an uphill task, more so because in China there is far greater demand for our non-Basmati rice than Basmati varieties. And the damage done to paddy crops mainly due to the second locust attack and the increase in the transportation cost after a massive rise in domestic fuel prices have pushed up the cost of procurement of non-Basmati varieties for commercial and industrial exporters.
In Iran, the biggest buyer of Indian basmati, payments were held up as the country’s central bank delayed allocation of the currency to traders to buy rice and other commodities.India's basmati rice exports continue to grow, especially to Iran, despite shippers facing payment problems from the largest buyer of the fragrant grain. “Basmati exports are doing very well. They are 30 percent higher this year compared with last year,” former president of Delhi-based All India Rice Exporters Association (AIREA) Vijay Setia said. According to the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), an arm of the commerce ministry, basmati exports in the first half of the current fiscal were up 33 percent at 27.44 lakh tonnes compared with 20.57 lakh tonnes during the year-ago period. Though the per-unit value realisation was low at $885 a tonne against $1,061 last year, the shipments have increased 17 percent in rupee value. In dollar terms, basmati shipments earned $2.4 billion in the first half of the fiscal. The rise in shipments comes on the heels of Pakistan making a bid to make inroads in the Iranian market after India and other countries complained of payment delays. “People are getting the payments for basmati exports from Iran but they are delayed. Shippers raised a hue and cry when they were delayed. The concern over late payments remains,” said Setia, also the executive director of Chaman Lal Setia Exports that sells basmati under Maharani brand. According to a multinational company’s export official, basmati exporters were taking a risk by selling to Iran but they had changed their strategy. “Exporters are stocking up the rice and selling there. They have set up distribution points. This is helping them continue exports,” the official said. It also indicates that Pakistan's attempts were not paying off. Though India, which accounts for 70 percent of the world’s basmati production, exports to more than 200 countries, Iran alone accounts for 34 percent of the shipment. In 2019-20, Iran was the biggest importer of basmati, buying 13.19 lakh tonnes valued at $1.23 billion compared with 14.83 lakh tonnes worth $1.55 billion the previous year. In 2019-20, 44.54 lakh tonnes of basmati was imported against 44.14 lakh tonnes the previous year. The earnings were, however, lower at $4.33 billion versus $4.72 billion.
Basmati is most likely of medieval origin. The history and folklore of basmati rice is an academic paper published last year in the Journal of Cereal Research. It was written by Subhash Chander, Uma and Siddharth Ahuja.Subhash Chander Ahuja is a retired plant pathologist from the Rice Research Station, Chaudhary Charan Singh Haryana Agricultural University in Kaul, Haryana. Uma Ahuja is a retired professor of Genetics and Plant Breeding, College of Agriculture, Chaudhary Charan Singh Haryana Agricultural University in Kaul, Haryana. Siddharth Ahuja is from the Department of Pharmocology, Shaheed Hasan Khan Mewati Government Medical College, Nalhar, Mewat, Haryana. In section 3.1 titled Historical growing areas, their paper reads:
The Ain-i-Akbari records cultivation of Mushkeen in the subahs of Lahore, Multan, Allahabad, Oudh, Delhi, Agra, Ajmer and the Raisen area of Malwa SubahMushkeen, also called Lal Basmati, is the red-husked variant of Basmati. Though not as popular as the light, golden-husked variant today, the paper says, it was popular in the kitchens of the Mughal Emperors. Significantly though, the paper reminds us that Basmati did grow in the Lahore and Multan provinces of the Mughal Empire, which are today in present-day Pakistan.
…All kinds of varieties of rice, even Mushki and Basmutti and Musagir and Begami and SonputtiIt is worth noting that Heer-Ranjha is set in the town of Jhang on the east bank of the Chenab in Pakistan’s Punjab. Ironically, this paragraph was cited by the Indian government while contesting Texas-based firm, RiceTec’s attempt in the late 1990s to appropriate Basmati rice. Even more ironically, India at the time was actively supported by the Pakistani government. Both eventually succeeded in thwarting RiceTec’s scheme. But even as the subcontinental twins squabble over Basmati, Indian farmers are increasingly finding it hard to grow it.
The reasons are many. In just seven years, the price of Basmati has halved. Why? Because, India’s exports have been hit due to the pesticides controversy as well as US sanctions on Iran, a major importer.Exporters have not paid to rice mill owners, who in turn have reduced purchase of basmati from local cultivators. This, then, is the current status of our Basmati farmers. Dayanand, a farmer of Basmati from Ghummanhera village on the outskirts of Delhi, told Down To Earth that getting a GI tag from the European Union would not improve his or his peers’ lot. Returning to the question of the GI tag, India and Pakistan have a bitter relationship. But the Republic of India was founded on the principle of fairness. Morality, fairness and ethics dictate that India is on a sticky wicket as far as claiming Basmati as entirely its own is concerned. Our move may destroy Pakistan’s basmati farmers. But will it improve the lot of our farmers? But in these times of hyper-nationalism, populism and nativism, all such talk is anathema, sacrilege, and blasphemy. And lest anybody’s sentiments are hurt after seeing this, I tender my apology. As things stand, my task is to inform. Until the final decision comes out on December 10, on who actually owns it, just sit back…and enjoy your basmati…Bon Appetit.
Two memosThe Ministry of Agriculture had through two Office Memorandums (OM) of May 2008 and February 2014 confined the GI certification for basmati to rice grown in the Indo-Gangetic plains in the States of Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and parts of Uttar Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir. GI certification gives recognition and several protections to a basmati rice producer and help in maintaining the specific qualities of the rice grown in that particular region.
Rajamudi is a traditional red rice variety of Old Mysore region
Shivraj Singh Chouhan vows to continue fight for basmati GI tag, slams Pakistan for ‘posing hurdles’
The coveted GI tag is a name or sign that corresponds to specific geographical locations. Usage of such a certification on a product would indicate that it possesses certain qualities exclusive to its land of origin.
5/3/2017 Commodity OnlineIndia, May 3 -- India' s Basmati Rice exports dropped 7% in dollar terms at $3. 2 billion in 2016-17 financial year as against the previous year s $3.47 billion according to provisional data released by the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA).In volume terms basmati shipments were estimated at 3.99 million tonnes against 4.04 million tonnes.The dip in basmati shipments mainly due to the reduced offtake from Iran the largest buyer APEDA noted.Non-basmati Rice shipments grew 10.5% in value at Rs.17 122 crore as against Rs.15 483 crore in FY2015-16 . In volumes the non-basmati rice shipments were up at 6.81 million tonnes against 6.46 million tonnes in the previous year.Overall Rice shipments exceeded 10.81 million tonnes about 3% higher than the previous year s 10.50 million tonnes APEDA said. Published by HT Digital Content Services with permission from Commodity Online. For any query with respect to this article or any other content requirement, please contact Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org
Rice traders need govt support to arrest declining exports
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