Pakistan’s basmati rice exports surged strongly in March 2023, if reports from PBS are to be believed. Dollar earnings against monthly basmati exports were up 17.2 percent against same period last year, and 39.3 percent against Feb 2023, suggesting some reprieve for country’s exports amid an across-the-board decline or stagnation elsewhere. But will it be enough?
Don’t let the headline numbers fool you. Basmati rice exports make up a little over one-fourth of total earnings from rice exports each year, bulk of which are contributed by export of other rice varieties such as IRRI, and hybrid rice. In absolute terms, basmati rice exports average under $0.7 billion per annum, against annual rice export revenue of $2.25 billion over the last several years.
Meanwhile, coarse rice exports were down in Mar 2023, declining 9 percent compared to same month last year, and 21.4 percent against Feb 2023. Even though prices are on the rise, the country recorded its worst March for coarse rice exports, barring the Covid years.
No doubt, the price impact has been strong during the ongoing fiscal. For the 9MFY23 period ending Mar 2023, average unit price for the 2.8 million metric tons of total rice exported stood at $570 per ton, which is the highest in well over a decade. Average unit price for all rice exports during 9MFY22 stood at just $500 per ton last year, The rise in unit price is broad based, with basmati unit prices rising by 21 percent over same period last year (9MFY22) and coarse rice average export unit price rising by 12 percent.
But the rising tide of higher prices will most certainly won’t lift the full year export revenue higher than last year. In volume terms, Pakistan’s coarse rice exports are at their weakest in a decade, standing under 2.5 million metric tons against 3.1 million metric tons against during the 9MFY23 last tear. Overall export earnings may very well shy away from the $2 billion dollar mark, far cry from $2.5 billion breached during FY22.
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