Water shortage hurts
Pakistan’s rice exports
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
the new crop,
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
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