The overall production of rice has been estimated to reach at 6.16 million tonnes during the year 2011-12, showing an increase of 28 per cent over the production of the same period of previous year, official sources said on Monday.
“Following the remarkable increase in the production of the crop, the rice exports from the country are expected to grow considerably during the current fiscal (2012-13),” Official sources in the Ministry of National Food Security and Research said.
The ministry is of the view that it was due to prudent and pro-farmer policies of the government that rice exports from Pakistan remained over $2 billion each for the last four years consecutively.
Giving break up, the sources added that during 2007-08 Pakistan earned $1.836 billion, in 2008-09, $1.983 billion, in 2009-10, $2.160 billion, in 2010-11 $.2.160 billion and in 2011-12 the country exported rice worth $ 2.061 billion.
The sources said that in the year 2009-10 rice was cultivated at an area of 2.88 million hectares that resulted in the production of 6.88 million tonnes, in 2010-11 rice was cultivated at an area of 2.37 million hectare that produced 4.82 million tonnes and similarly in 2011-12 rice was cultivated at an area of 2.57 hectares with 6.16 million tonnes production.
They said that Rice is the major cash and important food crop of the country after wheat crop and rice production comprises 40 per cent of basmati (fine) and 60 per cent of coarse types.
The government, they added, during 2008-09 and 2009-10 intervened in order to support farmers as the rice price hit the rock bottom due to bumper crop and plummeting international rice price.
Highlighting the major issues, the sources said that in view of good returns of the rice crop, the sources said that there is spread of basmati varieties in non-basmati zone.
“It may affect basmati rice exports in the long run as the Basmati produced in non-basmati zone lacks aroma”, they observed.
The sources added that due to higher yield of hybrid rice, farmers are also shifting the Irri-6 to hybrid rice and the hybrid rice quality is low compared to Irri types.
They further said that rice crop is low in productivity and production is affected by water shortage and there are enormous post harvest losses and issue of Afflatoxin, which affect crop value and quality especially in case of rice export.
They stressed the need for more investments in general research and development in rice for further increasing its production.
The sources said that Pakistani basmati rice was one of the top rice commodities all over the world, but the exports of this rich rice commodity witnessed sharp decline of 14.87 per cent during the last fiscal year 2011-12 as compared to the previous year.