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Bigger rice crop likely to drive up exports

Imam says country has potential to fetch $4.75b by exporting its surplus produce۔

ISLAMABAD: Minister for National Food Security Syed Fakhar Imam has said that the country can fetch $4.75 billion in foreign exchange – 125% or $2.64 billion higher than the previous year — by exporting the surplus produce of the bumper rice output recorded this year.

“The country has achieved a bumper crop of over nine million tonnes as against 8.4 million tonnes last year due to policy interventions and incentivising the local farming communities,” the minister said while addressing a news conference on Monday.

Imam said, “As domestic consumption stood at 3.5 million tonnes last year, carryover stocks of 2.5 million tonnes augment the local rice output to 11.5 million tonnes.”

He predicted a surplus of about eight million tonnes for next year.

Pakistan has a potential to fetch $4.75 billion by exporting its surplus produce, he said citing a market survey. “Last year, the country earned $2.11 billion by exporting rice, including basmati and others, which contributed to enhancing the income of growers and encouraged them to grow more.”

Despite having a huge export potential, Pakistan was mostly exporting rice to five countries, including China, UAE, Afghanistan and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, during the last three to five years, he said, adding that efforts would be made to enhance rice exports to other countries – Africa and Latin America.

ripe rice in the country farmland

The minister said that Pakistan could achieve the export target of $4.75 billion by overcoming the challenges and to achieve this task, coordinated efforts of both public and private sectors were needed. “It will also help in sustainable economic growth and development of the farming community.”

Imam said government’s efforts were bringing significant results as output of all major crops like wheat, rice, cotton, maize and sugarcane had touched historic highs during the last three years, adding that over 87 million tonnes of sugarcane output was also expected during the current season.

Due to provision of subsidy on cotton crop, cotton arrival during the current month reached 6.8 million bales as against 4.1 million bales during the same period last year, he said. “The cotton production target will be achieved, which will have a positive impact on the allied sectors as well.

“We are importing about 90% of edible oil to meet local requirements while the enhanced output of cotton will help produce cotton seed oil and reduce reliance on imported oil,” he added.

To a question, Imam said that sugar prices were witnessing a declining trend and they would further reduce as the crushing season had begun.

Ahmed Mukhtar Naqshbandi

Media person and communication expert for over 25 years. Worked with Dow Jones News, World Bank, CNBC Pakistan, Aaj TV, ARY TV, Abbtakk TV, Business Recorder, Pakistan Observer, Online News Network, TTI Magazine and other local and world Publications.

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