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Water shortage hurts Pakistan’s rice exports   
 

Pakistan exported about 2.9 million tonnes of rice in the 2008/09 financial year, down from 3.3 million tonnes the previous year, and a possible
water shortage
has raised
concern for
the new crop,
an industry
official said
on Wednesday.

Government data showed rice exports fell nearly 8 per cent in the July-February period from a year earlier, while exports in January alone fell more than 50 per cent from the same month in 2008.

Pakistan, the world’s fifth-largest rice exporter, produced about 6.3 million tonnes of rice from the 2008/09 crop versus 5.5 million tonnes the previous year, and was hoping to export up to 4 million tonnes in the year ending June 30.



But exports suffered from November to January following a government decision to buy rice from traders and enter the export market itself, which drove up the price of rice and ultimately hurt exports, according to traders.



‘As of June 26, we exported 2.89 million tonnes of rice and there were some big orders due to be shipped in the remaining days of the financial year,’ said Abdul Rahim Janoo, chairman of the private Rice Exporters’ Association of Pakistan (REAP).



The government’s decision to buy rice and paddy was aimed at helping farmers and maintaining stability in the domestic market in the face of a bumper crop, but traders said the move left Pakistan uncompetitive in the international market.



Government data showed rice exports fell nearly 8 per cent in the July-February period from a year earlier, while exports in January alone fell more than 50 per cent from the same month in 2008.



Exports picked up in April after the government ended its intervention in the market following an outcry from traders, according to industry officials.

 


Pakistan exported 909,709 tonnes of basmati rice and 1.99 million tonnes of other varieties of rice by June 26, REAP data showed.



But the prospect of a water shortage, due to scant rainfall in recent months, has raised alarm among farmers and millers about the next crop.



‘May, June, July, these are the three months when paddy needs a lot of water, and there was already less rains in May and June. It will be very bad if we don’t have enough rains in July,’ Janoo said.



‘We are very, very concerned about the prospects of a water shortage.’ Harvesting of non-basmati rice begins at the end of September and that of basmati rice, a month later.



Rice accounts for about 8 per cent of Pakistan’s exports and 12 per cent of gross domestic product.



Janoo said a government decision to raise diesel prices would also hurt farmers who use diesel-run tractors for farming and diesel generators to run tube-wells.
 

Courtesy: The DAWN

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