Pakistan Basmati rice exports is facing tough time in the international market and has come down to 700,000 tons in year 2012 because of multiple reasons including being Super Basmati as the only variety, decreasing yield and area and increasing cost of production, local and international competitiveness and challenge by extra-long grain Indian variety called 1121.
India has produced different new basmati varieties capturing the international rice market and posing a severe competition to Pakistani super basmati. Others challenges being faced by Pakistani basmati are decreasing quality because of lower quality and quantity of inputs and practices, poor quality basmati seed, poor access to crop production technology, market information, weather forecast and new techniques, harvest and post-harvest losses and improper use of inputs while not observing conservation of resources.
This was disclosed by Engro Eximp Agri Product Manager Seed Business and R&D Abid Ilyas Dar while talking to members of the Agriculture Journalists Association (AJA) Lahore during their visit to the biggest rice processing plant setup by the Engro group at Muridke near Lahore. He said his organisation realising the situation and to support the national agricultural sector had come in to field with a vision to boost up the rice exports as well as financially and technical strengthening the rice farmers.
He said under this vision his organisations has launched the programs of farmers’ education, facilitation to improve their yields, decrease the cost of production, conserving resources and improving profitability besides promoting a new basmati variety called 515, which has more per acre yield and can compete any variety in the international market.
Abid Ilyas said that this year Engro Eximp had set a target of buying 175,000 tons of paddy to process better rice for export and local consumption. He said that the organisation had adopted a novel way in which it is in contact with various farmers who are being provided land levelling facilitation, soil and water analyses based fertiliser recommendations, literature, technical services and use of different communication methods to improve their knowledge about latest techniques of rice plantation, which conserve water as well as bring down their input cost.
He said that in order to promote new Basmati variety of 515 whose seed was distributed amongst the rice growers free of cost besides developing demonstration plant for creating awareness amongst the growers about different techniques like Direct Seeding, Alternate Wetting and Drying, Clumping of lodged plants and quality harvesting to bring down the cost, usage of water and avoid pre and post-harvest losses.
Dar said to promote the concept of bringing paddy to mills with least moisture content, the group is paying premium price to those who bring their paddy with minimal moisture content. Because, to increase Pakistani rice exports the country has to ensure international quality standards. He underscored that his company has bagged nine health and safety certifications, including ISO 9001:2008, ISO 22000:2005, ISO 14000:2004, OHSAS 18000:2007, HACCP Dutch, IFS v5, BRC Issue 6, Halal 2010 and Kosher, to ensure total quality at all steps of rice processing, packaging and exports.