• Overall rice exports fall by 10pc in July-December
• Rival’s low prices, costly freight key reasons
KARACHI: Pakistan’s rice exports remained subdued in the first half of the current fiscal year (1HFY21) due to low prices offered by India for non-basmati and issues of higher freight and shipments from October 2020 amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
The country’s overall rice export plunged by 10 per cent in quantity to 1.824 million tonnes and 6.74pc in value to $963m in July-Dec 2020-21 versus the same period in the last fiscal year.
Out of total exports, the share of basmati exports plunged by 38pc in quantity to 265,672 tonnes and 31pc in value to $262m while non-basmati exports fell by 3pc in quantity to 1.558m tonnes and 7.45pc in value to $700m in 1HFY21 as compared to the same period last fiscal.
Chairman of the Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (Reap) Abdul Qayum Paracha told Dawn: “Chinese buying of Pakistan’s non-basmati rice had kept our exporters busy in September to December 2020.”
He said Pakistani basmati also enjoys an edge in the European markets as the level of pesticides in our local crop is low as per the European Union’s standard as compared to the high level of India.
He said a ray of hope has emerged from rising exports during Nov 2020 to 78,160 tonnes valuing $76m from 43,032 tonnes fetching $41m in Oct 2020 while non-basmati exports improved sharply to 379,944 tonnes with export earnings of $154m in November as compared to 220,674 tonnes fetching $98m in October 2020.
“I hope that the second half of FY21 proves much better than the first half as things appear to improve and much will depend on rice prices,” he said.
In overall basmati exports, Europe holds 40pc share. The commodity is also being exported to Gulf countries, Australia, US, etc. Non-Basmati markets include China, African countries, Far East, etc.
Pakistan produces 7.4m tonnes of rice annually out which over 4m tonnes is exported while the rest is consumed locally. Country exported 4.166mn tonnes of rice in FY20 which earned $2.175bn out of which basmati exports stood at 890,207 tonnes valuing $790m while non-basmati exports were 3.275m earning $1.384bn.
Meanwhile, Reap has successfully filed the Reasoned Statement in opposition to India’s claim on the Geographical Indicator (GI) tag for Basmati on Feb 5 this year. Filing a Reasoned Statement would be the second step after filing the Notice of Opposition initially on Dec 7, 2021.
The third step is the cooling off period of three months after which the hearings in DG Agriculture of European Commission will commence.
Filing the Reasoned Statement takes Pakistan one step closer to protecting its trade of Basmati. Since Basmati rice fetches higher prices than non-Basmati rice in international markets, India has attempted to block Pakistan’s trade in the EU by registering as the sole owner of Basmati’s GI.
Pakistan has opposed this claim to protect its trade of Basmati.