Commerce Ministry informed a National Assembly Panel that Pakistani’s Basmati rice exports to Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Kenya have taken a hit due to various reasons and highlighted steps being taken by the government to revive the exports.
While briefing the National Assembly panel headed by Shandana Gulzar, Director General Ministry of Commerce, Dr. Syed Kausar Zaidi, informed that Pakistani’s Basmati rice exports to Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Kenya have taken a hit due to various reasons and highlighted steps being taken by the government to revive the exports.
Zaidi expressed hope that the Prime Minister’s recent visit to Saudi Arabia will have a positive impact on the export of rice. He pointed out that Saudi Arabia is primarily relying on India for the import of rice. He further told that several Saudi investors have set up rice mills in India that export rice to Saudi Arabia, which has dented Pakistan’s export of rice.
Highlighting the reasons for the struggling basmati rice exports, he said that exports to Kenya and UAE have also declined, while China and the Philippines are big markets for Pakistan, but they don’t import basmati rice. Zaidi also briefed the panel on the status of the rice containers that were held in France and Belgium and said that the issue has not been resolved.
He told that Sri Lanka has also requested Pakistan for an additional quota of 0.2 million tons of rice. This will be in addition to the quota already assigned under the Free Trade Agreement (FTA).
The panel was informed that the government is undertaking a number of initiatives to revive the export of Basmati rice.
Zaidi highlighted that to boost the exports, the Ministry wants to give rice the status of industry but the Ministry of Industries and Production (MoI&P) has shown reluctance in the matter as it is a provincial subject.
During the meeting, lawmaker Nawabzada Shazain Bugti raised the issue of the non-availability of water in Dera Bugti and said that the area is ideal for the growth of rice.
The panel will submit its report to the Special Committee of the National Assembly on agriculture products headed by the Speaker National Assembly.