Lahore - The rice export from Pakistan have increased by 10.78 percent during first four months of the current financial year against same period of last year while export of basmati rice decreased by 31.22 percent to 131,160 metric tons from 174,191 metric tons during this period.

According to statistics, during July-October 2015 period 898,603 metric tons of rice worth $339.92 million was exported as compared to 657,420 metric tons valuing $306.89 million during the same period last year.

During October 2015 rice export grew by 24 percent as compared to the same month of last year. During the month about 347,685 metric tons of rice worth $121.66 million was exported as compared to 22,948 metric tons valuing $9.493 million of the corresponding month last year.

However, a point of serious concern was raised by exporters on decline in export of Basmati rice, as the export of this superior quality rice decreased by 31.22 percent to 131,160 metric tons from 174,191 metric tons during the period under review.

The Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan central chairman Ch Muhammad Shafique has feared that Pakistan may not take advantage of opening of rice export to Iran because of energy crisis and lack of the Research and Development which has turned Pakistan regionally uncompetitive.

Ch Shafique said that Pakistan rice export has been stagnant for the past many years, both in quantitative and value terms and is hovering around 4 million tonnes in quantity and $2 billion in worth because of devastating energy crisis and inconsistent and discouraging export policies of the government. India has entered the global rice market with a huge surplus and a 20-percent devaluation of its rupee, giving it almost unbeatable comparative advantage against Pakistani exporters. The State Bank of Pakistan also honoured sanctions against Iran, resulting in drastic drop in basmati exports to it. But the exporters still maintained their share and were able to achieve the mark.

He called for devising a comprehensive mechanism and appropriate currency transfer arrangements by the State Bank of Pakistan to take full benefit of reopening of rice trade with Iran. “Iran is the one of the largest rice importer of the world, which imports around 11 percent of the world rice worth $2.5 billion. He said that the demand for rice in Iran has doubled during 2012-13 and in the last five years, import of rice grew more than 35 percent. Hence, there exists a huge opportunity for the exporters of Pakistani rice. Pakistan, once, was the largest exporter of rice to Iran, before imposition of sanctions on Iran, which it has lost to India and now almost 90 percent of rice is coming to Iran from India though import from Pakistan is more economical,” he said.