KARACHI: Pakistan is estimated to export 4.5 million tons of rice, fetching approximately $2.0 billion for the year 2016/17 as experts pin hopes on higher hybrid production as well as pro-agriculture and pro-export measures announced by the government.

The office of Global Analysis USDA has raised Pakistans exports forecast by 0.1 million tons to 4.5 million tons on a stronger pace of trade.

USDA projects around 20 percent larger purchases by Saudi Arabia and Azerbaijan from Pakistan. Reportedly, Saudi Arabia would import around 1.6 million tons of rice during the period.

Global Analysis USDA maintains Pakistans rice export quotes at $410/ton. Arif Mahesar, an office bearer of Pakistan Rice Growers Association, said hybrid varieties were being grown in many areas and production would be better.

“Pakistans rice exports have crossed 4.0 million ton mark in the past, and there is sufficient demand in the international market.” “If the countrys production during the year comes to 7.0 million tons, rice exports will surely surge to 4.5 million tons.”

Mahesar said that there were some concerns pertaining to hybrid produce, “but the positive point is that China, which is a big market, likes hybrid produce.” According to Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS), the country exported 3.946 million tons of rice fetching $1.7 billion during July-May 2015-16.

For 2016/17, USDA Grain Report forecasts global production at a new record, primarily due to a larger crop in the United States, while global trade is forecast lower, with reduced imports and consumption in Bangladesh, Iran, and Nigeria.

Ahsan Mehanti, Director at Arif Habib Commodities, said government had announced several incentives for the promotion of agriculture as well as exports, which would be reflected in overall agro-based production.

“However, the higher production of any commodity cannot guarantee higher exports. If rice production numbers grow northwards globally, and competitors offer better rates, Pakistans exports might take a hit.”

Mehanti said Middle East and Africa were the primary markets for Pakistani rice, and Thailand, Vietnam, and India were competing producers. “Indias rice export quotes were lower than Pakistan last year, and concerned authorities should focus on better marketing also,” Mehanti noted.

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