The per acre yield of Basmati rice has declined to 32 from 48 maunds per acre during the past five years, while India has developed seeds that produced over 50 maunds per acre. He said although Pakistan is now no more among the top 10 rice producing countries, but still fourth leading rice exporter. “I think time has come now that we must take benefit from Indian technology to increase production and produce grain on economical price, so that our exports may become competitive in the world,” he said adding India is good in rice value addition and we must learn in this regard.
In exports, however, we may focus more on Asian and African markets to increase our exports. He pointed out that purchasing power in Asia is increasing and these markets could be more attractive for rice exports in future. Africa and South American countries have also huge potential for our rice.
Pakistani Basmati rice itself is a brand image of Pakistan throughout the globe as it is being exported to around 70 destinations inclusive of those where our counsellors/ambassadors are not present, but lack of Research and Development (R&D) is the major reason behind decrease in exports and creates bottleneck for our production, he said.
Jawad urged it is a need of the time that Government research institutes uphold WTO disciplines to protect Pakistani rice exports worth $2 billion and invest in research, pest eradication, storage, improvement in yield and develop varieties which consume less water. To a question regarding bilateral trade, he said there is a lot of trade potential between two nations. If trade takes a front seat, automatically, other issues would get pushed to back seat, but trade with India should be based on equality, integrity, and solidarity.
Pakistan needs to build capacity of National Tariff Commission to deal with any injury to its industry from any increase in imports. If Pakistan wants to achieve a higher GDP growth, trade normalisation with India would be the best route. Both countries should promote regional trade on the pattern of Asean, EU, Nafta, to boost bilateral trade, but with open minds. The two neighbouring countries should not mix trade with politics. If we would have strong trade relations, political relations would get better automatically, he said. Generally people in Pakistan are in favour of soft visa policies, promoting bilateral trade relations and people to people contact but not on the basis of Indian hegemony. He also opposed giving access to India for trade relations with Afghanistan and Central Asian Republics.