Unleashing the Potential of Hybrid Rice in Pakistan

  • Rice is Pakistan’s second staple food and fourth-biggest export after Knitwear, Readymade garments, and Bed wear, but its production declined by 41 percent during 2022-23, coming in at 5.5 million tons according to the data published by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

    The primary reason was devastating floods that knocked off 80 percent of expected rice production in Sindh which contributes to nearly a third of national output. Rice is also facing severe challenges from climate, weeds, and pests.

    The true potential of any crop’s success is hidden in its seeds and hybrid rice is a potential answer to these barriers.

    Hybrids for rice first surfaced during the 1970s when Dr Yuan Longping and his team averted a catastrophic famine in China making it the biggest rice producer in the world. He is still remembered as the second leader of the Green Revolution along with Nobel laureate Norman Borlaug.

    Globally, rice has two main subspecies, Japonica and Indica. The Japonica rice comes from temperate & high-altitude environments, is short & stickier when cooked, and is cultivated in China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, and Taiwan.

    Indica rice on the other hand is long, non-sticker (separate after cooking), and is grown in India, Pakistan, the Philippines, Southern China, and Africa. In Pakistan, all cultivated varieties from basmati, extra-long grain, and coarse rice belong to the Indica species.

    In traditional varieties, plants have both male and female parts on the same flower and reproduce through self-pollination, but hybrid rice is produced by crossing two different parents. It causes a process called heterosis, producing more spikelets (rice flower unit) per unit area and increased grain weight, yielding 20-30% more in comparison to traditional cultivars.

    The hybrid rice program was formally initiated in Pakistan during the 1990s at Rice Research Institute, Kala Shah Kaku (RARI) in a combined effort with International Rice Research Institute (IRRI). In 2021, the government approved Pakistan’s first Basmati Rice Hybrid developed at RARI and directed the auction of the licenses for marketing and distribution.

    “Developing Basmati Hybrids is quite challenging because we have to protect its famous length and aroma” stated Dr Shawaiz Iqbal, Senior Scientist at RARI. He explained that the approved variety KSK111H has a yield potential of 115 maunds/acre and holds all the other features of basmati rice.

    Although the process of commercializing is stalled after the government shuffle since the process of auction is yet to be outlined.

    Lahore-based Guard Agriculture Research & Services is another industry leader in hybrid rice in Pakistan with a 74 percent market share. They have successfully developed and marketed half a dozen hybrid cultivars all having production potential of 120 maunds/acre and resistance against disease, shattering, lodging, and heat.

    One of the key aspects of rice hybrids is increased yield from the same unit area of land. Pakistan is the fifth-largest country by population in the world and will soon cross Indonesia for the 4th spot. It is a double-edged sword putting pressure on existing food production while leaving less agricultural land on the other hand.

    Our only shot at the food security of future generations is to ensure a vertical increase in production and hybrid cultivars are the key to that challenge. The second major threat to Rice production is looming climate change and resulting water scarcity. Rising temperatures are also a precursor to an increased occurrence of diseases and pests.

    Hybrid cultivars provide us with the opportunity to effectively cope with these challenges without putting more pesticides and other agrochemicals in the field and further threatening the biodiversity and sustainability of the ecosystem. Hybrids can break the yield barriers and escape drought as well due to their shorter life span.

    For example, all the rice hybrids introduced by Guard Agriculture Research are resistant to Bacterial Leaf Blight (BLB). They can also sustain against salinity and water logging, which is increasingly ravaging our lands due to floods and mismanagement of water resources.

    Lastly, hybrid rice will not only ensure domestic food security but will also fuel exports with increasing demand for this important cereal internationally especially the coarse types. Although hybrid rice gets lower prices in the local market in comparison to basmati, companies like Guard Agriculture assist farmers in exporting their produce.

    The prime challenge in their widespread use is affordability both to farmers and the country. Being hybrids, farmers will have to buy their fresh seeds every year. If farmers cultivate the same seed from the previous year’s hybrid crop, the crop will produce inconsistent results and surely will not achieve ideal yields.

    “The performance of Chinese hybrids is subject to specific climate as they are not all locally adopted, unlike our domestic cultivars”, added Iqbal.

    He maintained that these hybrids are also vulnerable to climate change as happened during 2020 heatwaves, especially in September when temperature shifts affect flowering significantly.

    He also argued that there is a need to protect the heritage of basmati rice by limiting the cultivation of these hybrids to Lower Punjab and Sindh, out of the Kallar Tract Rice belt (Narowal, Gujranwala, Sialkot, Kasur, Sheikhupura, etc).

    Pakistan is the largest importer of hybrid rice in the world and has failed to indigenize its production despite years of collaboration with international actors, especially China. It drains foreign exchange from an agricultural-rich country that is always struggling to keep up with the balance of payments.

    Government and private institutions must work on the technology transfer of hybrid rice which will not just ensure the indigenization of hybrids & save foreign reserves, but will also create huge local employment opportunities and will be relatively affordable due to domestic production.

  • Pakistan bigger exporter of basmati to Europe than India, panel told

  • ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Commerce told a Senate panel on Friday that the European Union has not given any preferential access to Indian basmati rice.

    Replying to lawmakers’ questions during a meeting of the Senate Committee for Commerce, the ministry’s secretary said that at present, Pakistan was exporting more basmati rice to European markets than India.

    Basmati rice is a shared production of India and Pakistan. In the recent past, it became a source of a contentious trade battle between the two nations after India applied for an exclusive trademark that would grant it sole ownership of the basmati title in the European Union.

    The secretary, Sualeh Ahmed Farooqui, said the EU had yet to make any progress

    on the request while Australia has also rejected a similar request from India. Legal proceedings are still ongoing in the United States, he added.

    The meeting of the parliamentary committee also criticised the persistent absence of Commerce Minister Naveed Qamar from meetings.

    At the outset of the meeting, Senator Danesh Kumar said the minister was asked to appear for questions from senators. He later walked out of the meeting to register his protest.

    The committee’s chairman, Senator Zeeshan Khanzada, said ministers should give importance to parliamentary committees and ensure their participation. Otherwise, the issue will be raised with the Senate chairman.

    Senator Faisal Javed raised the issue of royalties to artists. He said Pakistani artists had the right to get a royalty for their art aired on government and private electronic media.

    He complained that even the state-run PTV was not providing royalties to artists for streaming their old dramas and music.

    The chairman of the Intellectual Property Organisation, an attached department of the commerce ministry, told the committee that a law was being drafted for the protection of artists’ rights.

    He added that feedback has been sought from stakeholders on the draft which will be shared soon with the standing committee.

    Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) Chief Executive Officer Zubair Motiwala briefed the committee on export diversification efforts and increasing exports to Africa.

    He said TDAP wanted to promote the export of dates, pink salt, and mangoes which have now been registered under Geographical Indication (GI) tags.

    Efforts are being made to increase the export of seafood as well, he added.

    Briefing on the efforts to boost trade, the commerce secretary told the meeting that a grand exhibition was organised in Dubai while the private sector was being supported by the commerce ministry to participate in an exhibition held in Germany.

    The committee was informed that 197 international trade fairs and 10 local trade fairs were organised during the last four years to promote exports.

    Bushra Rehman of the Canada-Pakistan Chamber of Commerce infor­med the committee that Pakistan’s single-country exhibition would being held in North America in August. A total of 57 Pakistani companies will participate in this exhibition. The exhibition needed more support from the ministry and TDAP, she added.

    The commerce secretary told the meeting that the production of dates has been greatly affected due to last year’s floods.

    He said 300,000 tons of dates were exported annually, but this year only 5pc of them will be exported. The committee’s chairman said that the export capacity of the country should be prepared and provided to the committee in the next meeting by preparing a report on our current situation and comparison with different countries.

  • Pakistan Market Monitor Report – February 2023


    • Food prices continued to rise high since February 2022 for the 11th consecutive month (except for a decline by 0.1% in Dec-2022), with CPI food inflation in January 2023 increasing by 42.94% over January 2022. National and international drivers (fuel price hikes, energy costs, devaluation of rupee against dollar increasing prices of food/Non-food imported items, Russia-Ukraine war, etc) suggest that prices will remain high for the coming months.

    • Headline inflation based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI) is now 27.55%, the highest in 48 years (since 1975), representing an increase of 27.55% in January 2023 over January 2022. It should be noted that inflation rates in neighbouring countries stand at 5.2% (Afghanistan), 6.5% (India), and 8.6% (Bangladesh).

    • In January 2023, prices increased for staple cereals wheat (+27.1%), wheat flour (subsidized) (+17.0%), wheat flour (Fine) (+8.2%), rice Basmati (+16.3%) and rice Irri-6 (+14.6%) compared to December 2022, representing an increase of 90% in wheat, 78% in both wheat flour (subsidized) and wheat flour (Fine), 61% in rice Irri-6 and 53% in rice Basmati from the same time a year ago.

    • Among non-cereal food commodities, prices increased for chicken (+21.0%), pulses (Moong (+5.2%), Gram (+2.7%), Mash (+2.6%), Masoor (+2.0%)) and eggs (+2.0%) from the previous month, representing an increase in chicken (+99%), eggs (+60%), Moong (+56%), Gram (+48%), Mash (+40%) and Masoor (+21%) from the same time a year ago. On the other hand, prices decreased for ghee (-2.1%) and sugar (-1.1%) from December 2022.

    • A comparison of pre-flood (June 2022) and post-flood (January 2023), some food commodities indicated huge increase in prices; for instance, price of onions increased up to 220%, wheat flour 74%, rice Irri 68%, pulse moong 65%, rice Basmati 45%, and milk 39%.

    • Average Terms of Trade (ToT) for January 2023, measuring the amount of wheat flour that can be purchased with one-day of casual unskilled labor wage worsened by 14.0% from the previous month. The retail prices of automotive fuels increased in January 2023 compared to the previous month i.e., Super Petrol (+16.0%) and High-Speed Diesel (+15.0%).

  • Asia rice: more exports, stronger baht send Thai rates to 6-month high

  • MUMBAI/ HANOI/ BANGKOK,/DHAKA: Prices of rice exported from Thailand this week rose to their highest since early June on the back of increasing shipments and a stronger baht, while cheaper rates for the staple in India kept orders rolling in.

    Thailand’s 5% broken rice prices were quoted at $452-$460 per tonne, up from a $425-$457 range last week.

    “There is more demand from Asian countries now, while African countries are more interested in rice from India,” said one Bangkok-based trader.

    There was news that supply could soon tighten so exporters were buying to stock up, said another trader.

    Top exporter India’s 5% broken parboiled variety edged higher to $374-$380 per tonne, from last week’s $373-$378, on a slight improvement in demand, although rising supplies from the new season crop capped the upside.

    “December’s second half usually remains quiet but this year few sellers got export orders since Indian rice is cheaper than other destinations,” said an exporter based at Kakinada in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh. Traders said Cuba was buying more rice from India, with a vessel being loaded with 28,150 tonnes at Kakinada Port for delivery.

    Neighbouring Bangladesh was in talks with India to buy a total of 200,000 tonnes of rice in government-to-government deals, officials said, as it seeks to build reserves to cool domestic prices of the grain. Vietnam’s 5% broken rice was offered at $448-$453 per tonne, unchanged from a week ago, when rates reached their highest level since July last year.

    “Demand for Vietnamese rice remains steady, especially from top buyer, the Philippines,” said a trader based in Ho Chi Minh City.

    Preliminary shipping data showed 167,650 tonnes of rice is to be loaded at Ho Chi Minh City port in the Dec. 1-28 period, with most of it heading to the Philippines and Indonesia.

  • Rice 2022: a good year for (some) farmers?

  • Just 9 months ago, rice was marketed as the cereal that would save the planet. As war broke out in the Black Sea, fertilizer prices spurt out of control, and wheat harvests failed across the globe, world rice production remained unaffected, restraining fears of global food insecurity and hunger. Pakistani policymakers breathe a sigh of relief, as a substantial surplus in rice production could help mitigate two of their worst fears: a grain/cereal shortage in the local market; and, a widening trade deficit. Unfortunately, that hope could prove short-lived.

    First, came the floods. The horrific monsoon rains destroyed Sindh’s coarse rice crop, which in the past has contributed up to 80 percent of Pakistan’s rice export by volume, and 75 percent by value. Pakistan’s annual rice production has now been written down by at least 3 million metric tons (MMT), down from 9.3MMT achieved last year. During 5MFY23, coarse rice exports are down by 5 percent in volume, and 9 percent in value, even as residual exports fetched the highest unit prices in nearly a decade.

    Since then, luck has only taken a turn for the worse. Global rice production forecast has been lowered by 12 percent, as output in India dropped by a whopping 6MMT. As the world’s largest rice exporter imposed duties and tariffs on the export stage – particularly on broken rice and other coarse rice varieties – global prices have picked up, further tightening world supply. Unfortunately, Pakistani exporters are in no position to gain from the situation.

    The story of basmati export is even berserk. Basmati prices in the international market have risen by more than half – 56 percent between Nov 2021 and 2022. Yet, it seems a grain shortfall in the local market coupled with tightening supplies due to lower cultivated area has resulted in weaker exports – which are 29 percent lower in volume terms during 5MFY23 compared to the same period last year. This more than offset the gains on unit prices, with an overall 11 percent drop in basmati export revenue during the period under review.

    Although the exporting industry is hopeful that things shall pick up in the latter half of the fiscal year, don’t pin your hopes on it. After the wiping out of coarse rice surplus from Sindh, the record-shattering export target achieved during the last fiscal is now a distant dream. Higher basmati prices could stem the tide of falling export revenue, but the quantity exported of basmati would have to rise by at least 50 percent – from 0.75MMT in FY22 to 1.15MMT in FY23 – for annual rice export receipts to reach the $2.5 billion goal.

    Two push factors may alleviate the export situation. First, premium basmati prices in the local market have skyrocketed over the last two months. If demand shows significant price elasticity, expect more supplies to become available for export. Two, inventory financing trends raises the possibility that procurement by milling segment may be keeping up pace with last year, even though bank lending rates have basically doubled between Nov 2021 and 2022. Of course, an alternative explanation could be that mills are paying through their noses for a smaller crop. Only market insiders can explain!

    Either way, if you were a Pakistani rice farmer with a healthy crop yield during the outgoing Kharif 2022 season – most likely located in the northeast or central Punjab, congratulations on a year of excellent profitability!

  • Anti-smog action may delay wheat sowing in rice belt

  • LAHORE: The ongoing anti-smog crackdown may impede wheat sowing campaign in the rice belt as farmers are not clearing paddy stubble from their fields through manual or chemical means.

    “We don’t have finances and tools other than applying the centuries old technique of burning the paddy crop leftovers for preparing our fields for next crop (wheat) in the small window available for both clearing remnants of the previous harvest and ploughing the land for next plantation,” says Abu Bakr, a farmer from Gujranwala district.

    But the anti-smog squad of the provincial government is imposing heavy fines on the farmers who are getting rid of stubble through burning for timely preparations of lands for wheat sowing, he says.

    Devoid of financial and technical resources, small farmers in the rice area are sitting idle at their homes, perplexed how to prepare their fields for the next crop, he adds.

    Farmers lack resources to opt for alternative to stubble burning

    If no step is taken by the government at the earliest, wheat plantation will at least be delayed if not missed and late sowing will lead to poor crop yield, he fears.

    Endorsing his views, Kisan Board Pakistan central vice-president Amanullah Chattha regrets that the administration in rice-growing districts is harassing the farmers through heavy fines and instituting criminal cases against those who burn stubble at their fields for timely preparing them for wheat plantation.

    This crackdown, he warns, is not only causing unrest among the farming community but will also lead to national food insecurity if wheat could not be sown in hundreds of thousands of acres of land.

    He argues that the administrative action against the growers is uncalled for because the agriculture research institutions could not offer any alternative system or chemical to dispose of the paddy stubble.

    He urges the government to refrain from penalising the farmers until and unless it comes up with an alternative method other than burning for getting rid of crop leftovers otherwise, he cautions, the unrest among the farming community may make it to take to the streets.

  • Pakistan rice export to China increases nearly 10%

  • BEIJING: Pakistan’s export of rice to China crossed $277.56 million in the first five months of Financial Year 2021-2022, up 9.73 percent year-on-year bases. Pakistan remained one of the major broken rice suppliers to China, according to the official data from the General Administration of Customs of the People’s Republic of China (GACC).

    Badar uz Zaman, Commercial Counselor of the Pakistani Embassy in Beijing, said that currently broken rice, especially IRRI-6, IRRI-9, and semi or wholly milled rice were the main varieties of rice exported to China while Basmati and other top varieties still need to work hard to capture the Chinese market.

    “Last year, China imported 973,000 tons of rice worth $437 million from Pakistan. Seven new Pakistan rice exporters have been added to the approved list, which has risen to 53 in 2021. China relaxed import restrictions on Pakistani rice which helped rice export to China”, Badar mentioned.

    He believes that within a few years Pakistan will become the largest rice exporter to China, CEN reported.

    In the first five months, broken rice, commodity code (10064080), crossed about $42 million, an increase of nearly 865.26% as compared with last year, which was $4.32 million. Semi or wholly milled rice, commodity code (10063020), reached $132 million, according to GACC data received by Pakistan.
    Badar Uz Zaman said that Pakistan was using traditional and especially social media platforms here to create awareness about Pakistani rice in the Chinese market.

  • Pakistan Asks China to Enhance Rice Quota to 2 Million Tons

  • Pakistan has asked China to enhance the rice quota to two million tons. Sources told ProPakistani that Pakistan, during the tour of Prime Minister Imran Khan last month, asked China not only to support duty concessions but for quota enhancement in specific sectors including rice. Pakistan has exported rice worth $2.1 million to China in the first seven months of the current fiscal year 2021-22 whereas it exported rice worth $2.29 million to China in the same period the previous year. Sources said that Pakistan has also asked China to abolish the 4 percent duty on the export of cement. Pakistan can get the duty-free concession of exporting cement to China after 3 years under the Free Trade Agreement (FTA-II). Sources further said that this will help offset part of the trade deficit which has surged to $32 billion in the first eight months of the current fiscal year. They said that Pakistan has also asked China to expedite the process of mutual recognition agreements on agriculture and animal products. Apart from this, Pakistan has also asked the tariff liberalization to be done by 10 and 20 years from seven to 15 years under CPFTA-II respectively. Similarly, Pakistan has also asked China for an uninterrupted bilateral opening of the Khunjrab border for trade. Sources said that the Ministry of Commerce is waiting for the response of China on these proposals.  
  • Rice Exports Surge By 11.61 Per Cent In Seven Months

  • ISLAMABAD  – Rice exports from the country during first 07 months of current financial year increased by 11.16% as compared to exports of the corresponding period of last year. During the period from July-January, 2021-22, over 2.179 million tons of rice valuing $1.286 billion was exported as against the exports of 2.179 million tons valuing $1.157 billion of same period last year. According the trade data released by Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, the exports of Basmati rice also increased by 28.58% in last 07 months as 414,190 metric tons of Basmati rice valuing $362.183 million was exported as against the exports of 293,761 metric tons worth $281.675 million of same period last year. Meanwhile, country earned $924.668 million by exporting about 2.138 million tons of rice other than Basmati as against the exports of 1.886 million tons worth $875.959 million of same period last year. On year on year basis, the exports of rice also witnessed significant growth of 13.30% as 434,382 metric tons of rice valuing $220.078 million was exported in January, 2022 as compared to exports of 329,999 metric tons worth $194.245 million of same period last year. The exports of Basmati rice also grew by 08.97% in month of January, 2022 as 62,734 metric tons of above mentioned commodity valuing $58.086 million was exported as against the exports of 60,609 metric tons costing $53.305 million of same month of last year. It is worth mentioning here that food group exports from the country during first 07 months of current financial year increased by 20.87% as compared to the exports of the corresponding period of last year as different food commodities worth $2.952 billion were exported as against the exports of $2.444 billion of same period last year. The exports of food group from the country witnessed about 14.31% growth on year on year basis in January, 2022 as compared to same month of last year. During the period under review, the exports of all major food items recorded positive growth as exports of rice grew by 11.16%, fish and fish preparations 5.08%, fruits 11.60%, vegetables 11.36%, spices 22.94%, meat and meat preparations 1.68% respectively. Meanwhile, food group imports into the country also recorded increase of about 21.32% during July-January, 2021-22 as food commodities costing $5.629 billion were imported as against the import of $4.639 billion of same period last year. The food group imports into the country on year on basis also recorded about 13.05% growth in January, 2022 as against the imports of January, 2021. During month of January, 2022, different food commodities valuing $830.844 million were imported as compared to import of $734.953 million of same month last year. In last 07 months imports of soyabean oil increased by 34.70%, palm oil 55.75%, sugar 49.84%, pulses 14.94%, tea imports into the country grew by 5.48% as corresponding period of last year.
  • Pakistan’s Basmati rice exports up by 8.97%

  • Pakistan’s Basmati rice exports grew by 8.97% month-on-month to $58.086 million in January 2022, as compared with $49.161 million in January 2021, WealthPK reported. The country’s overall monthly rice exports declined by 8.40% and remained at $220.078 million in January 2022 compared with $240.264 million in December 2021, according to Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS). The country’s overall food group exports in January 2022 were $471.500 million as compared with $533.565 million in December 2021, showing a decrease of 11.63%, reported WealthPK. On a year-on-year basis, food group exports increased by 14.31%  
  • Pakistan has potential of $4.5b rice exports

  • Pakistan has the potential of $4.5 billion rice exports, but currently, the exports stand at $2.1 billion, WealthPK reported. By taking pragmatic steps, Pakistan can improve its production and exports, according to Syed Fakhar Imam, Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research. The minister said in a statement that Pakistan’s total production of rice this season is 9 million tons. Pakistan’s domestic consumption of rice was 3.5 million tons in FY 2020-21. He said that with a total stock of 2.5 million tons from the previous year, Pakistan now has an export potential of 8 million tons. Globally, Pakistan is the fourth largest rice exporter and the 11th largest rice producer, WealthPK reported. Rice yields are 2.56 tons per hectare in Pakistan, but the world average is 4.7 tonnes per hectare, which shows there is a lot of room for improvement. During pre and post-harvesting, a large amount of rice is lost, WealthPK reported. Post-harvesting accounts for direct loss of rice physically and quality-wise that reduces the economic value of crop or makes it unsuitable for human consumption. Due to over-exposure to fluctuating temperature, a huge quantity of rice is cracked during threshing, causing rice breakage during processing (milling) and reducing its quality. Journal of Agricultural Research and Technology states that due to mismanagement, pest attack, and spoilage, almost 25 percent of rice is lost after harvest in developing countries. Different stages of rice crops and how it is wasted are described below, WealthPK reported. Technological innovation is an important factor in boosting agricultural output and reducing wastage. Developing countries like Pakistan lag in the latest/up-to-date technologies. Weak transportation and crop management system are important factors that increase the probability of rice wastages. Almost 95 percent of farmers own less than 12.5 acres of land.
  • Pakistan can fulfill entire rice demand of Romania: Fakhar Imam

  • Ambassador of Romania to Pakistan Nicolae Goia called on Minister of National Food Security Syed Fakhar Imam in Islamabad today [Thursday]. Speaking on the occasion, the Minister said Pakistan has immense export potential in citrus fruits, rice, mangoes, onion, potatoes, fisheries and livestock sectors. He said Pakistan has eight million tonnes of rice production which can be used to fulfill the entire rice demand of Romania. Syed Fakhar Imam said Pakistan can benefit from Romania expertise in mechanization.
  • Applications invited from rice growers for subsidised machinery provision

  • FAISALABAD    -  The agriculture department has invited applications from rice growers for providing them agri appliances and machinery on subsidised rates under Prime Minister (PM) Agri Emergency Programme.
    Deputy Director Research Information Unit Agriculture Department Faisalabad Dr Asif Ali said that male and female farmers belonging to Faisalabad, Jhang, Chiniot, Gujranwala, Gujrat, Sialkot, Mandi Bahauddin, Narowal, Hafizabad, Lahore, Kasur, Sheikhupura, Nankana Sahib, Bahawal Nagar and Okara were eligible for applying for agri machinery. He said that rice growers should submit their applications up to February 20, 2022 and they would be provided rice machinery after balloting. He said that application forms were available in the offices of Assistant Director, Deputy Director and Divisional Director agriculture (extension) while the same could also be downloaded from website www.agripunjab.gov.pk and its photocopy would also be acceptable. He said that after balloting farmers would be provided various kinds of agri appliances and gadgets. More information in this regard can be obtained from the offices of Deputy Director or Divisional Director Agriculture (Extensive) Department during office timing, he added.
  • REAP extends help to govt in research,model farming

  • LAHORE: Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) has extended its cooperation to the Punjab government for research and model farming in the agriculture sector. This offer was made in a meeting held between Chief Secretary Kamran Ali Afzal and REAP’s delegation led by Chairman Ali Hasaam Asghar here Sunday. Other members of delegation included Ch Samiullah Naeem, Kashif Rehman, Mian Wahab and Faisal Jehangir, while Secretary Agriculture Asad-ur-Rehman Gillani was also present on this occasion. Kamran Afzal told the delegation that the Punjab government was working on providing business-friendly atmosphere so that business activities could be promoted. The provincial government was also working on farm mechanisation in order to increase production of agriculture sector, maintained. Speaking on this occasion, Ali Hasaam said export of rice depended on agriculture sector’s production. He also appreciated the steps taken by PM Imran Khan to facilitate the exporters.
  • Pakistan to lend Sri Lanka $200mn: report

  • Pakistan will lend Sri Lanka $200mn. ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has decided to give Colombo a $200 million loan for the purchase of rice and cement, said a Sri Lankan media report. The decision was made during a recent visit of the Sri Lankan trade minister to Islamabad, the report said. However, the terms and duration of the loan were being finalized by the authorities from both the countries, it added. Sri Lankan will use the amount for the import of rice and cement from Pakistan. Sri Lanka’s Secretary to the Treasury Sajith Attygalle confirmed that Islamabad and Colombo have agreed on the $200 million credit line in principle while the details of the credit is yet to be worked out, according to Daily Mirror. The amount will be used to import cement, basmati rice and medicines manufactured in Pakistan, the publication added. It is pertinent to mention here that Sri Lanka is facing a shortage of cement recently, which had led to skyrocketing prices.
  • The high cost of low yields

  • The high cost of low yields LAHORE: Pakistan’s pathetic agriculture policies have resulted in huge drain of foreign exchange. Low yielding seeds create shortage of crops like cotton, wheat, and edible oil, which is covered via imports. However, seeds are imported too. Over seventy percent of Pakistan’s exports originate from agriculture. Rice exports after textiles are the largest foreign exchange earners for Pakistan. The basic problem is that of quality seeds. Public sector research in developing new and better seed varieties is pathetic. The private sector is hostage to the long approval process for certification of their seeds, as the approvers in the government themselves are from public seed research institutes. They have a vested interest. New seed varieties developed by the private sector with better yield are a blot on the public sector seed institutes that have failed to develop any seed through research. They often own the popular smuggled seed varieties and give those seeds their name. Provincial seed research institutes are starved of funds as 90 percent of their budget is consumed on salaries and administrative expenses. There is a very small amount left for research that must be distributed among several PhD researchers employed at these institutes. The funds are not sufficient for even one credible research. Seed is the most crucial input in agriculture. The productivity of the crop depends on the quality and efficacy of the seed. The ability of the seed to resist pests and drought are the features that are embedded after research. These seeds are certified by the provincial governments confirming the features claimed by the public or private researchers. Still there is a dearth of quality seeds in Pakistan. The country still depends on the Maxi-Pak wheat variety introduced in the 60s. Our per acre wheat production is half that of neighbouring India. In cotton, we failed to develop its BT variety with the result that cotton production in the country declined from 14.87 million bales in 2014-15 to only 8 million bales in recent years. Basmati rice production in Pakistan is almost half that of the long grain rice of India and we are constantly losing our global share to India. Maize production has multiplied in recent years on the strength of imported hybrid seed. In the same way, coarse rice exports are constantly on the rise because of imported hybrid rice seed and its production in Pakistan through transfer of technology. After the All Pakistan Textile Mills Association, the Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) has also urged the government to focus on demand driven research, taking all stakeholders on board, particularly rice exporters. REAP Chairman Ali Hassam Asghar regretted that public sector research institutions were doing research in isolation whereas Pakistan’s competitor, India was bringing a new variety every year. It is becoming very difficult for us to compete with them. A decade back Basmati share in our rice export was over 70 percent. Now it has reversed as the share of coarse rice variety dominates rice export. The cost of coarse rice has reduced appreciably because of high yielding hybrid rice seeds imported from China and production of the same high yielding variety through transfer of technology from China. Since Basmati or the long grain rice is grown in Pakistan and India only, its high yielding seed must be developed in Pakistan. Indians have already done so and are leading long grain exporters. Asghar said both federal and provincial governments should pay attention towards the whole rice supply chain. Most vital now was the availability of extra-long grain seeds. Currently, REAP members have no option but to export high-cost low yield super basmati and 1121 varieties. He said private sector companies claimed that the variety approval system of the government was flawed, as preference was given to low yield government varieties over high yielding private sector varieties. Private rice seed researchers are dismayed over the delay in approval of their high yield basmati varieties, while low yield varieties of the public sector are approved. In one instance, one high yield rice variety from the private sector was rejected by the provincial seed council on spot examination with a comment that “if this variety goes for fine, we may recommend”, otherwise it will be rejected if the researcher company wants to get it approved as a basmati variety. Yield of that variety was higher by 12 percent than the check variety (super basmati). Incidentally, the same variety was recommended by PARC, which is a federal body. This variety was again sent for spot examination and was cleared, but this time the objection was that the data of the researcher was old. These delaying tactics discourage the private sector as research is an expensive process. To ensure fair play, the provincial seed council must have representation from private sector research centres as well as relevant exporting associations, beside experts from the provincial government and a representative of the federal government.
  • Pakistani rice sold in international market labeled ‘made in India’

  • Pakistani rice traders are reportedly unhappy after they found out that Pakistani rice is being sold in the international market with a "made in India" tag.

    Speaking to Deutsche Welle (DW) a German international broadcaster, the Managing Director of Charagh Group of Companies Khalil Ahmed said that "Indians in Muscat, Saudi Arabia, and Dubai purchase rice from us but sell it under their own brands and labelling." Pakistan's rice export association has filed a lawsuit against Indian rice purchaser companies in an international court. But since the case is still pending in court, the association has declined to speak with DW about the matter. According to rice traders, the issue is not just about branding. Ahmed explained that as a result of crop cultivation when farmers sow the seed, rice becomes scarce in the market, which naturally increases the price of rice. Once the crop has reached maturity, the farmer begins harvesting.  He stated that 10% to 20% of paddy is broken during the reaping process due to a lack of modern equipment. Once the rice crop reaches the mills, the crop must be dried and husked, which requires more modern machinery. Similarly, the rice breaks during the process and all of these factors add to the cost.

    This year, Pakistan will export 36 million tonnes of rice to a lot of different countries, with basmati rice accounting for 20% of the total.

  • Rice valuing $1.066b exported in H1-FY2021-22

  • Rice valuing $1.066 billion were exported in the first of the financial year 2021-22 as against the exports of $963.379 million of the corresponding period of last year. During the period from July-December 2021, over 2.081 million tons of rice were exported as against the exports of 1.849 million tons of the same period last year, according to the data of the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics. In the first two quarters of the current financial year, rice exports from the country witnessed about 10.73pc growth as against the exports of the same period of last year, it added. The exports of basmati rice grew by 33.14pc as 343,633 metric tons of basmati rice valuing $304.043 million exported as against the exports of 233,152 metric tons worth $228.370 million of the same period last year, it added. Meanwhile, the country fetched $762.772 million by exporting over 1.738 million tons of rice other than basmati rice as compared to the exports of 1.616 million tons $735.009 million of the same period last year. During the last six months, the country earned $201.581 million by exporting about 75.268 metric tons of fish and fish products, which was stood at $195.364 million in the same period of last year, it added. On a month-on-month basis, the exports of rice grew by 3.26pc in December 2021 as against the exports of 484.956 million tons worth $232.676 million of the corresponding month of last year, it added.  
  • EDF Board approves Rs27m for global ‘Biryani Festivals’

  • KARACHI: On the request of the Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP), the Export Development Fund (EDF) Board has approved some Rs27 million for Biryani Festivals at five international destinations for the promotion of Pakistani rice. Reap is making serious efforts to boost the country’s rice export and intends to achieve a $5 billion export target in the next few years. Rice is one of the largest exporting commodity and cumulatively, some 3.2 million tons worth $2 billion rice were exported during the last fiscal year. As per Reap proposal, these Biryani Festivals will be organized in Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), Muscat (Oman), Baghdad (Iraq), Tehran (Iran) and Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) for the promotion and marketing of Pakistani rice. In these festivals, Reap would present Pakistani rice as a brand to enhance the exports and earn more foreign exchange for the country. While talking to Business Recorder, Muhammad Anwar Mianoor, acting Chairman Reap said these five countries are already importing Pakistani rice, but there is huge potential to increase exports. Pakistan has exported some 0.2 million tons of rice to Malaysia and is willing to achieve 0.5 million tons target. Iraq’s rice market is over one million tons and Iran is also a potential market with 1.5 million tons demand, he mentioned. He said the Export Development Fund (EDF) Board in its 22nd Finance Committee Meeting has principally approved Reap’s proposal for organizing Biryani Festivals in the five international destinations to further explore the rice export markets. “We are planning to conduct Road Shows and aggressive social media marketing. We will engage food bloggers and social media influencers for the promotion of Pakistani rice,” acting Chairman Reap said. He said that these Biryani Festivals will be arranged in the hotels, restaurants and hypermarkets of the potential rice buying countries. Accordingly to manage funds for these festivals, Reap requested Ministry of Commerce and Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) for support Reap’s proposal through the EDF, so that the rice exporters’ representative body will be able to increase rice exports from Pakistan and increase overall market share in the different countries, he added. He informed that Mincom and TDAP have not only appreciated the Reap’s Biryani Festival proposal but also assured full support to make these events successful. Accordingly, the EDF Board has approved Reap’s proposals and sanctioned EDF funds of Rs.27 million for Biryani Festivals at five proposed destinations. Anwar Mianoor said that Pakistani rice is one of the best rice in the world due to its length and quality. There is a need to make some serious efforts for the promotion of Pakistani rice. Pakistan has a bumper rice crop this year and has sufficient stocks for exports. The growth in rice exports and its earnings will also help the government to reduce pressure on external accounts. He has thanked Abdul Razzak Dawood, Advisor to Prime Minister on Commerce, Sualeh Farooqi Federal Secretary Commerce and all members of EDF Board for their consistent support for approval of these proposals and efforts for the betterment of rice export trade of Pakistan.
  • Pakistan posts record rice production

  • Rice_ShutterStock_E.jpg ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN — Pakistan harvested a record rice crop of 8.9 million tonnes in the 2021-22 marketing year, up from 8.4 million tonnes the prior year, according to a Global Agricultural Information Network report from the Foreign Agricultural Service of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). “New higher-yielding hybrid rice varieties, improved agronomic practices and increased planting area, as farmers shift out of cotton, are factors driving the increased production,” the USDA said. The agency noted that the Pakistan government’s policy of ensuring rice growers had adequate inputs also contributed to the record production. Meanwhile, the country’s rice exports in 2020-21 (November-October) were stagnant at 3.8 million tonnes, virtually unchanged from the previous year, the report said. Supply chain disruptions, shipping container shortages, and high transportation costs negatively impacted rice exports. With this year’s record production adding more stocks, total available supply is estimated to be 11 million tonnes, the USDA said. “Domestic rice consumption is 3.7 million tonnes, leaving an exportable supply of 7.3 million tonnes for 2021-22,” the USDA said. “This large surplus will provide an opportunity to significantly increase exports, but Pakistani rice will continue to face stiff competition from India and Southeast Asia suppliers.”    
  • Containers: Rice exporters urge govt to ensure timely availability

  • KARACHI: Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (Reap) Tuesday urged the federal government to take immediate measures to ensure the timely availability of the containers for export purposes. A high-profile delegation of Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) led by Abdul Rahim Janoo, Former Chairman Reap had a meeting with Mahmood Baqi Moulvi, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Maritime Affairs yesterday at KPT Head Office Karachi. Muhammad Anwar Mianoor Senior Vice Chairman REAP, MC Members Dr. Muhammad Hafeez, Hasab Abdul Rauf along with Rasheed Jan Muhammad, Jawed Jilani, Ashfaq Ghaffar, Anis Majeed, Usman Shaikh, Noman Arif, Faisal Anis, Shoaib Rauf and others were the part of the delegation. In addition, Muhammad Sohail Shahzad, Director Technical Quarantine Department of Plant Protection Department, government of Pakistan along with his team was also present during the meeting. Anwar Mianoor said with a bumper rice crop this year, Pakistan has great opportunity to boost the rice exports. “We have good orders for China in coming months,” he said. However, exporters are facing a severe challenge of non-availability of containers for export purposes, he mentioned. He also drew the attention of the Advisor towards exorbitant increase in freight charges. He requested the federal government for immediate measures for the availability of containers for export of goods, particularly rice. “The federal government should issue a notification that forbids shipping lines from taking away empty containers or put a percentage on the movement of empty containers from our country,” he suggested. He mentioned that in some countries, their government implemented this practice. Further, he complained that shipping agents and companies are charging high exchange rates as compared to prevailing rates. He requested his support to facilitate rice exports to work with peace of mind. Mianoor also appreciated the role of DPP for the betterment of import export trade of Pakistan. He said that despite the shortage of staff, DPP staff has worked day and night and provided excellent services to business and trade. He requested Mahmood Moulvi to extend every possible support to DPP to continue their services. Abdul Rahim Janoo congratulated Mahmood Moulvi and said that he is the first leader of rice industry who have reached this position and we are proud of you for representing the rice sector everywhere. Sohail Shahzad, Director DPP thanked for the support to Reap, Ministry of National Food Security & Research and Government of Pakistan and informed that previously DPP was facing a critical shortage of staff to perform our duties to inspect import export containers at all sea ports. However, after consistent efforts MINCOM appointed a good number of Staff on Contractual basis and also provided suitable funds, so that DPP can continue to work with zeal. He requested to provide support to get these staff permanent. He requested Mahmood Moulvi to again hand over the office to DPP to work smoothly at Port premises. Sohail Shahzad added that there should be dedicated space at seaport to inspect the import export containers properly for sensitive countries, so that exports could not be stopped.
  • Pakistan poised to export near-record rice volume this season

  • Pakistan poised to export near-record rice volume this season ISLAMABAD: Bolstered by a bumper crop, Pakistan is poised to export near-record volumes of rice this season as the country struggles to manage surplus stocks of grain, a minister said on Monday. Pakistan planned to offer over 8 million tons of rice to foreign buyers as by December around 11.43 million of rice stocks will be available in the market for 3.4 million tons of local consumption. Syed Fakhar Imam, minister for National Food Security and Research said the country would offer rice worth $5 billion this season for exports to cut its ballooning surplus “but at the same time it’s a challenging task”. “This year we have over 8 million tons of exportable, worth around $4.85 billion. If we succeed in exporting this surplus rice, it would be a major breakthrough,” Imam told a news conference. China, Kenya, UAE, Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia were key exports destinations of Pakistani rice over the last five years and imam said the government is mulling to setup a committee or task force on national level under the supervision and monitoring of the Prime Minister to push rice exports to new markets including. Africa and Latin-America “Exports have been a major challenge for the country over the last one decade and have been in the bracket of $21 to $25 billion. If this avenue is exploited and the rice is exported, the country can earn more forex and jack up our total exports,’ he added. Imam said the provincial crops reporting departments have reported a bumper rice crop of 8.96 million tons from 3.5 million hectares during the Karif 2021/22 crop year. Last year the country produced 8.41 million tons of rice. The government estimates that total available stock by December 2021 will be 11.43 million tons. Deducting 3.40 million tons for domestic consumption, 8.03 million tons is available as exportable surplus. Of the total exportable surplus, approximately 30 percent is basmati (2.41 million tons). Currently, the average export prices of basmati and coarse rice are $870/ton and $490/ton respectively. At these prices, Pakistan can earn $2.10 billion and $2.75 billion (total $4.85 billion) from the export of basmati and coarse rice, respectively. Official data showed that the country produced 8.41 million tons of rice and had a carryover stock of 0.51 million tons. Around 8.92 million tons of grain stock is available for domestic consumption and export. Up to November 2021, approximately 3.1 million tons were domestically consumed and 3.34 million tons was exported. Currently, the country has last year’s carryover stock of 2.47 million tons. During the last fiscal year, Pakistan exported 3.50 million tons of rice, valuing $2.11 billion. However, rice exports fell 12 percent compared to exports of FY2019-20 due to Covid-19 related disruption in shipments. “In FY2021-22, our exportable surplus is 128 percent higher than that of last year. Now that the shipment disruption is easing, Pakistan should make every effort to export 8.03 million tons and earn $4.85 billion which will be $2.74 billion more than that of last year,” Imam said.
  • Pakistan poised to export near-record rice volume this season

  • Pakistan poised to export near-record rice volume this season ISLAMABAD: Bolstered by a bumper crop, Pakistan is poised to export near-record volumes of rice this season as the country struggles to manage surplus stocks of grain, a minister said on Monday. Pakistan planned to offer over 8 million tons of rice to foreign buyers as by December around 11.43 million of rice stocks will be available in the market for 3.4 million tons of local consumption. Syed Fakhar Imam, minister for National Food Security and Research said the country would offer rice worth $5 billion this season for exports to cut its ballooning surplus “but at the same time it’s a challenging task”. “This year we have over 8 million tons of exportable, worth around $4.85 billion. If we succeed in exporting this surplus rice, it would be a major breakthrough,” Imam told a news conference. China, Kenya, UAE, Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia were key exports destinations of Pakistani rice over the last five years and imam said the government is mulling to setup a committee or task force on national level under the supervision and monitoring of the Prime Minister to push rice exports to new markets including. Africa and Latin-America “Exports have been a major challenge for the country over the last one decade and have been in the bracket of $21 to $25 billion. If this avenue is exploited and the rice is exported, the country can earn more forex and jack up our total exports,’ he added. Imam said the provincial crops reporting departments have reported a bumper rice crop of 8.96 million tons from 3.5 million hectares during the Karif 2021/22 crop year. Last year the country produced 8.41 million tons of rice. The government estimates that total available stock by December 2021 will be 11.43 million tons. Deducting 3.40 million tons for domestic consumption, 8.03 million tons is available as exportable surplus. Of the total exportable surplus, approximately 30 percent is basmati (2.41 million tons). Currently, the average export prices of basmati and coarse rice are $870/ton and $490/ton respectively. At these prices, Pakistan can earn $2.10 billion and $2.75 billion (total $4.85 billion) from the export of basmati and coarse rice, respectively. Official data showed that the country produced 8.41 million tons of rice and had a carryover stock of 0.51 million tons. Around 8.92 million tons of grain stock is available for domestic consumption and export. Up to November 2021, approximately 3.1 million tons were domestically consumed and 3.34 million tons was exported. Currently, the country has last year’s carryover stock of 2.47 million tons. During the last fiscal year, Pakistan exported 3.50 million tons of rice, valuing $2.11 billion. However, rice exports fell 12 percent compared to exports of FY2019-20 due to Covid-19 related disruption in shipments. “In FY2021-22, our exportable surplus is 128 percent higher than that of last year. Now that the shipment disruption is easing, Pakistan should make every effort to export 8.03 million tons and earn $4.85 billion which will be $2.74 billion more than that of last year,” Imam said.
  • Pakistani rice export to China has huge potential perts

  • Pakistani rice export to China has huge potential: Experts BEIJING, Nov. 25 (APP):Customs data showed that China imported RMB 1.95 billion worth of paddy and rice from Pakistan in the first 10 months of this year, 3.9 times that of the same period last year. Pakistan is the third largest rice supplier to China. In addition, Pakistan once became China’s largest rice supplier in the first five months of this year. As China and Pakistan further advance agricultural cooperation, Pakistan’s rice exports to China may increase, according to a report published by China Economic Net. Zhang Jiegen, an associate researcher at the Center for Pakistan Studies at Fudan University, believes that China’s rice market is open to Pakistan in a way that other countries do not enjoy. “China will provide as much quota as possible to Pakistan in order to promote the healthy development of China-Pakistan trade, but Pakistan’s production capacity cannot keep up.” Many factors affect rice yield. Ch. Muhammad Rafiq, Director of Rice Research Institute Kala Shah Kaku, holds that smog is among the culprits. “When basmati rice is not dried in time, exposure to the air produces aflatoxins. If these factors are excluded, the average yield of crops per acre will increase by 10 to 15 maund (1 maund is about 40kg). “ In Pakistan, many farmers take rice as a cash crop. They use wheat harvester to harvest rice due to the lack of specialized rice harvesters. Shamsul Islam Khan believes that the use of inappropriate combine harvesters affects rice yield. “This leads to grain loss and increases breakage rate. When specialized rice harvesters are used, the yield will increase and the quality of crops will improve.” Agricultural technology limits rice production, and also has an impact on rice processing. Shamsul Islam Khan said that 40-50% of rice is broken during processing. In the first five months of this year, Pakistan once became China’s largest rice supplier. The main reason is that China has relaxed its import restrictions on Pakistani rice in recent years. China has approved seven new Pakistani rice exporters to do business in China. So far, the number of Pakistani rice exporters that have got permission to enter the Chinese market has risen to 53. “There are 1,800 active members in Pakistan’s rice exporters association, and currently over 800 companies export rice from Pakistan,” Faisal Jahangir Malik said. By comparing 53 approved exporters with 1,800 active members, he expressed his expectation that “there is still much room for improvement in the exporter quota”. China adopts tariff quota policy for corn, wheat and rice, levying a 1 percent tariff on imports within the quota and a 65 percent tariff on imports exceeding the quota. In 2021, import tariff quotas are 9.636 million tonnes for wheat, 7.2 million tonnes for corn and 5.32 million tonnes for rice, including 2.66 million tons of long-grain rice. Guo Jiapeng, a businessman engaged in global rice trade in Hong Kong, said. “Pakistani rice is mainly mixed with domestic rice according to a certain proportion to get the best taste.” As domestic rice harvest season has started, the arrival price of Pakistani rice in Hong Kong this year fell all the way from the highest USD 480 per ton to USD 310 per ton. China’s per capita consumption of rice has been declining year by year. Guo Jiapeng, based on years of trade experience, concluded that the rice that Chinese people have for staple food is decreasing at the rate of 3.5 per year, while the rice used for industrial production is increasing at the rate of 5%. Among them, broken rice for industrial use is not included in the quota, and the tariff levied on Pakistan’s broken rice export to China is 10. International sellers have set their sight on this “blue ocean market”. If the quota is a threshold, the preferences and habits of Chinese consumers determine the export prospect of Pakistani rice. Through more than ten years of experience in the Chinese market, Shamsul Islam Khan believes that the appearance of rice plays a key role in the Chinese market, “Chinese consumers’ preference for milled and polished rice leads to an increases in breakage.” Aman Ullah Khan, a Pakistani trader who has lived in China for over ten years, said that one reason for the poor sales of Pakistani rice in China is the characteristics of basmati rice. “Cooking basmati rice is demanding. The texture of cooked rice will be affected when it’s cooked in electric cookers, so the sales are not satisfactory in China.” Compared with foreign quality rice, cooked basmati rice gives a soft texture with superior aroma. As cooking it is demanding, currently, basmati rice in China is mainly served in foreign restaurants. Meanwhile, short-grain rice is still the main variety consumed by Chinese people at home. Thailand is a traditional rice supplier to China. Kesrin Ariyapongse, deputy secretary-general of the Thai Chamber of Commerce in China, holds that one reason why Thai rice has gained a good reputation in the Chinese market is that the eating habit is similar in China and Thailand, so Chinese people accept Thai rice easily. Fortunately, the Chinese have high recognition and acceptance of foreign food. Shamsul Islam Khan came to a Pakistani restaurant in China in 2018 and saw an amazing sight, “There wasn’t a single Pakistani except me. All were Chinese. They were eating samosas and having a good time. They were tasting Pakistani food, which was a good thing for us. “ If basmati rice wants to gain more recognition in China, high-end positioning is the top priority. Moreover, how to help Chinese consumers make a choice between Pakistani basmati rice and Indian basmati rice is also particularly important. A search for “basmati rice” on a Chinese e-commerce website shows that more than 70% of the products are “Pakistani basmati rice”, and the rest are produced in India. This has been made possible by the efforts of Chinese and Pakistani rice traders. Badar uz Zaman, Commercial Counsellor of Pakistani Embassy in Beijing, appreciated, “importers have started using e-commerce platforms to sell Pakistani rice, and Pakistani Embassy and Consulates in China have organized several rice related events.” “Our exporters start to comprehend Chinese taste for rice, participate and exhibit in different exhibitions and trade fairs actively, and learn about packaging requirements for products sold in the Chinese market,” said Badar uz Zaman. Kesrin Ariyapongse also suggested that Pakistani exporters should make adjustments for the habits of Chinese consumers. “Packaging improvement and constant product upgrading will allow the Chinese to accept easily.” “China is a large rice importer. Our exports can be increased many folds!” said Imran Sheikh, a Pakistani rice trader. Sino-Pak agricultural cooperation is all-round. Pakistan is eager not only to export its agricultural products to China, but also to bring Chinese investors with capital and technology to improve its agricultural sector. “Chinese technology can be seen everywhere around the world now.” He has been engaged in cooperation with Chinese companies. “We have made new machines by mixing local machines with those imported from China, Thailand and other countries. We have reached an agreement with our Chinese counterparts to cooperate in setting up a rice processing plant,” said Shamsul Islam Khan. Before Chinese agricultural machines entered Pakistan, high prices kept farmers away and hindered the development of agricultural mechanization. “In the past, the prices of these machines were quite high. For example, color sorter machines from Japan were extraordinary expensive. Now we import them from China because of lower cost and good rejection quality,” Shamsul Islam Khan said. The combine harvester mentioned above is also a good aspect of cooperation. Faisal Jahangir Malik said that Pakistan needs Chinese rice harvesters and transplanters. “Like the tray paddy transplanter, rice seedlings can be spread on the tray. Furthermore, it can increase yield by 5% to 7%. Pakistani farmers need equipment, education and training to modernize agriculture.” Chinese agricultural machines enter Pakistan relatively late, but they cost less and are in line with the habits of local farmers. In this way, upgrading of local agricultural technology and realization of agricultural machinery localization can come true in Pakistan. In response to Pakistan’s agricultural technology, Hussain Haider, Consulate General of Pakistan in Shanghai, holds that Pakistan needs to modernize its agricultural sector. In this case, Chinese assistance, investment and expertise can play a key role in mechanization of agriculture, use of modern technology and improvement of productivity. Pakistan has about 10 million hectares of saline alkali land. In this regard, Ch. Muhammad Rafiq is more interested in cooperation with agricultural colleges. “A large portion of our land is under the effect of salinity. We are still running breeding programs with old traditional methods and are not using the genetic engineering aid. We hope to cooperate with Chinese agricultural colleges.” Deep processing is a good opportunity for Pakistani rice to overtake if it wants to stand out from the fierce competition in the rice export market. As carbon constraints tighten, the gap in China’s starch market is widening, and the production of industrial products such as fast food boxes made from corn starch and rice starch is expanding. Guo Jiapeng believes that by using Chinese fermentation technology, the added value of Pakistani rice can be improved through deep processing biodegradable materials in China after initial processing in Pakistan. According to Shamsul Islam Khan, in addition to agricultural technology, he hopes that China can make extensive investment in Pakistan’s agriculture sector, and that more Chinese companies will “contract land” in Pakistan, as it has a large area of open, uncultivated land due to lack of agricultural technology. “After Chinese and Saudi companies went to Africa, they turned it into fertile land. 22% of Pakistan’s area is cultivated land, but there are still a wild stretch of land that is uncultivated. If China’s drip irrigation technology is adopted, it may also yield rice.” However, not all Pakistani farmers will accept Chinese technology. Zhang Genjie told CEN reporter a story, “Once an entrepreneur from a Chinese agribusiness talked about cooperation with a big landlord in Islamabad. The Chinese entrepreneur said that if the production technology was applied, the yield increased two to three folds, but the Pakistani landlord showed no interest. He said that the current practice could ensure an annual income of tens of millions of rupees. Why to change?” Zhang Jiegen believes that with the introduction of international cooperation and capital, an action forcing mechanism will be formed to accelerate the adaptation of local agriculture sector to international market demand. Traditionally, seed industry, agricultural machinery, agricultural materials, and product processing have been the main areas of agricultural cooperation between China and Pakistan. Pakistanis involved in rice business have started imagining scenarios of applying information technology to agricultural farming. Shamsul Islam Khan proposes to develop an application for rice farmers that would allow them to stay in touch with the agriculture department in real time, and the agricultural department would advise them on watering schedules and others. Pakistani rice is harvested by Chinese harvesters and then exported to the Chinese market according to Chinese packaging standards… This is the pursuit of countless Pakistani rice practitioners. As Badar uz Zaman said, “In the next few years, I think Pakistan will become the largest player in the Chinese rice import market.”
  • rice export: cautious optimism

  • Pakistan’s rice exports staged a comeback during Q1-FY22, rising against low base from Covid quarter during same period last year. Exports of all varieties have shown marked improvement, with basmati rice exports recording a particularly impressive performance, marching ahead by one-third in volume terms. But beyond the obvious low base impact, rice exports are struggling to get off the rollercoaster ride they stepped on three years ago, failing to inspire confidence. Exports remains significantly lower than Q1-FY20, when impact of currency devaluation made commodity export temporarily very attractive. Since then, volumes have struggled to maintain momentum, with annualized basmati volume well-under million tons target, whereas non-basmati varieties are also trailing under peak performance.
    Although rice exporters have pointed fingers at the oceanic container shortage, much more seems to be at play that explains below-par performance. Exporters are struggling to fetch attractive pricing in the global commodity market, as rice prices have turned out to be the only laggard in the ongoing global commodity price spiral. International prices of most rice varieties are trailing well below their pre-pandemic levels, and refusing to change gears from downward trajectory. Domestically produced rice varieties are also no exception to this global trend, which is an outcome of a glut in rice supply from East Asian countries.
    It must come as little surprise to readers that Pakistan is a price taker in the international rice trade, especially due its tiny share in non-basmati varieties production. Since non-basmati varieties are mainly produced for export markets, export volume has demonstrated resilience (as suppliers struggle to sell in local market). But pricing has certainly taken a hit, in line with international trend. In case of basmati, global demand remains steadfast at roughly 5 million tons per annum, of which 0.6 to 0.8 million tons originates from Pakistan. Exporters from India meet more than 80 percent of the global demand, and thus enjoy unchallenged pricing power.
    News reports from across the border suggest that India’s basmati exports may remain restricted close to 4 million tons in the ongoing fiscal year, due to lower production forecast in its local markets. Pakistani exporters thus have a golden opportunity to maximize volume exported, but some risks to thesis persist. Exporters insist that ‘ocean freight gone wild’ risks hurting prospects, as buyer destinations are not entirely averse to higher prices. Ex-farm prices have already adjusted upwards in response to lower production across the border, further diminishing mills’ margins. On the other hand, buoyant demand for local consumption means millers are happy to offload their output in the domestic market, especially if price of substitute cereals (such as flour) also rise. Given the complex dynamics, the recent round of currency depreciation has offered some encouragement to exporters, which may be dampened due to change in macro-settings: the possibility of an upward correction in Rupee as a result of an agreement with IMF. If that happens, Pakistan’s rice exports breaching $2.5 billion in FY22 shall remain a mirage.
  • India-Pakistan tug of war over GI tag for Basmati rice takes a new turn

  • India-Pakistan tug of war over GI tag for Basmati rice takes a new turn
    A recent judgement of a European Union court has misled Pakistan into believing that its geographical indication (GI) rights over Basmati rice have been upheld. The judgement gains significance in view of the tussle over GI rights between India and Pakistan.
    India and Pakistan have been in a tug of war over exclusive trademark rights on long-grain Basmati rice. India applied to the EU for protected geographical indication (PGI) status for Basmati rice last year. Pakistan opposed the move as it would deal an adverse blow to the country’s exports to EU. India and Pakistan are the only two countries that export Basmati rice to the world.
    Pakistan’s claim that the latest judgement upholds its rights over Basmati rice is unsubstantiated, S. Chandrasekaran, author of the book, Basmati Rice: The Natural History Geographical Indication, told The Hindu BusinessLine.
    The case
    In October 2017, the UK-based Indo European Food Ltd appealed to the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) against registration of the trademark by Venice-based distributor Hamid Ahmad Chakari. Chakari is a distributor in the EU who buys rice from Pakistan, while Indo European Food Ltd is a wholly-owned subsidiary of India’s Kohinoor Foods Ltd that markets Basmati rice.
    Chakari had obtained the non-registered trademark for rice flour, rice cakes, rice-based snacks, extruded food products made of rice, rice pulp for culinary purposes and rice meal for forage.
    According to Indo European Food Ltd, the trademark relied upon the goodwill associated with the name Basmati.
    The UK firm also said use of the words, ‘Abresham Super Basmati Selaa Grade One World’s Best Rice,’ indicated that the product was Basmati rice and if the rice used was of any other type, it would lead to misrepresentation. This would damage the goodwill of the Basmati rice brand.
    The EUIPO rejected the arguments by Indo European Ltd in April 2019, saying it failed to provide sufficient evidence that the registration of the trademark caused loss to the firm.
    “There was no argument to explain how use of the mark applied for could affect the distinctiveness of the name ‘basmati’,” the EUIPO board of appeal had said.
    What is the EU court judgement?
    The ruling by the Court of Justice of EU came on an appeal filed by Indo European Food Ltd against the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) judgement.
    The Luxembourg-based Court of Justice upheld the registration of  ‘Abresham Super Basmati Selaa Grade One World’s Best Rice’ in the EU and said Indo European Ltd “failed to demonstrate” how the trademark would result in misrepresentation of the name Basmati.
    However, it agreed that a small part of the public could believe that the goods were in some way associated with Basmati rice.
    The Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan hailed the judgement and said it “successfully” crushed the Indian application of GI tag for its Basmati rice in the EU.
    India still in the race
    Chandrasekaran said Pakistan is wrongly under the impression that the Court of Justice recognised its Basmati variety.
    Since 2017, the Indian Patent Office has given GI tag for Basmati rice, thereby protecting the exclusivity of the long-grain fragrant rice across the world.
    As the 2017 case revolved around a non-registered product, the Indian registration supersedes such a claim, the expert said. It is now an internationally settled law.
    With the domestic GI tag, India has the legal means to challenge any registered or non-registered trademark post-2017, Chandrasekaran said.

  •             KARACHI: The steps being taken by the incumbent government to increase the country’s exports have started yielding results as Russia has increased the volume of rice imports from Pakistan. The Russian Trade ministry will monitor more rice factories via video link with the collaboration of the Plant Production department. Earlier Pakistan had around 34 rice export establishments in the Russian market, but now the number has increased up to 53, said director Plant Production Department, Sohail Shahzad said and added several countries including Russia, China, Japan and Australia have lifted the import ban from Pakistan and issuing online confirmation certificates to the Pakistani exporters. Sohail Shahzad said several countries by visiting the factories online via Plant Production Department are releasing orders for rice and fruits. It is to be noted that Russia had banned the import of Pakistani rice in 2018. The ban was lifted after efforts were made by the Ministry of Commerce, Ministry of National Food Security and the trade wing of Pakistan’s embassy in Moscow. The trade attache in Moscow had also persuaded the Federal Service for Veterinary & Phytosanitary Surveillance (FSVPS), a federal executive body in Russia, to conduct a virtual inspection of other rice exporting enterprises in Pakistan, so that they may also be allowed to export rice to Russia.  
  • Rice exporters slam PM aide’s claim

  • Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan say the statement regarding no demand of basmati rice in the world is misleading

    Karachi: Rice exporters on Thursday came hard on a Prime Minister’s aide for underestimating the export potential of Pakistani basmati that fetches the country more than $800 million. Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) said the statement regarding no demand of basmati rice in the world is misleading, as Pakistan exports basmati worth more than $800 million every year. REAP expressed serious concern over a public statement by Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Agriculture Jamshed Cheema that demand in export markets is mostly for coarse rice while the Pakistani farmers are intoxicated with basmati rice and should shift to production of coarse rice. The aide said basmati rice should only be produced for local consumption. “The statement of the special assistant is patently false and misleading,” Qayum Paracha, chairman of REAP said in a statement. “REAP would like to apprise that basmati is sown in Punjab since 17th century and due to its unique aroma, our basmati rice acts as Pakistan’s ambassador globally,” Paracha said. Pakistan’s current basmati rice exports are around $800 million per annum out of total $2.3 billion rice exported per annum. Hundreds of thousands of people in the whole supply chain of basmati rice from farmers, millers and work force to exporters and brand owners are dependent on the crop, he added. REAP has announced a reward of Rs10 million to any rice breeder, government or private sector, who comes up with high productivity basmati rice new seed. “Instead of encouraging research and yield increase in basmati crop which has a potential of more than $3 billion export annually, Cheema is discouraging sowing of this heritage product,” he said. “Such irresponsible statements by people sitting on highest echelons of Pakistan will jeopardize our case in European Union. Such damaging stance by a high official of the government negates all our efforts to safeguard our heritage since centuries in basmati rice besides billions invested in rice mills, export market brand equity.” In March, the European Union accepted the reasons of Pakistani rice exporters for why India should not be given exclusive rights to export basmati. REAP had filed the statement in opposition to India’s claim of geographical indication of basmati on February 5 after sending the notice of opposition on December 7 last. Pakistan has been challenging India’s bid to obtain exclusive rights of exporting basmati rice to the 27-member European Union since last year. India is the world’s biggest basmati exporter and meets 65 percent of the global demand for the aromatic rice. Pakistan meets the remaining requirement.