In a recent press conference, Chela Ram Kewlani, the Chairman of the Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP), shared some significant developments in Pakistan’s rice export industry. He announced that Pakistan had achieved $2.5 billion in rice exports during the fiscal year 2023 and was poised to set a new export record in the current year.
Kewlani also noted a growing demand for Pakistani rice from Indonesia, with a substantial export of 90,000 metric tons recently completed.
Kewlani highlighted that Pakistan’s anticipation of a bountiful rice crop had paved the way for abundant rice stocks available for export. Moreover, the global demand for Pakistani rice had surged due to India’s imposition of a ban on rice exports.
Addressing concerns about the Minimum Export Price (MEP), Kewlani acknowledged that during his tenure as Chairman of REAP, the MEP had faced delays for unspecified reasons. However, after a one-year hiatus, the MEP was now being properly established, set at $551 for Irri-6 and $1103 for super basmati rice. Kewlani assured stakeholders that the MEP would be determined following established procedures to ensure fair rice exports.
To foster the development of new rice varieties and enhance per-acre yields, Kewlani announced the establishment of an R&D department and a library under REAP’s umbrella.
He pointed out that while Pakistan was still using Irri-6 seed, the Philippines had introduced a superior variety, Irri-257.
In addition to this, Pakistani rice exporters had been actively seeking out new export markets, and their efforts had borne fruit with two countries recently lifting bans on Pakistani rice exports. Kewlani commended the collaborative efforts of REAP, the Ministry of Commerce, and the Department of Plant Protection, which had resulted in Mexico and Russia reopening their markets to Pakistani rice after a prolonged hiatus. This development was expected to boost foreign exchange earnings significantly.
To manage commodity prices and supplies effectively, Kewlani recommended that the federal government establish a policy board representing all stakeholders. Such a board could monitor commodity demand and supply, especially for essential items like sugar and wheat.
During the press conference, former Chairman Rafique Suleman praised Mexico and Russia as promising export markets for Pakistan, offering premium prices for rice. He highlighted that these countries had even purchased Pakistani rice at $850 per metric ton, contributing to the goal of achieving $3 billion in rice exports for the fiscal year.
Suleman reiterated that REAP had presented a $5 billion rice export roadmap to the federal government four years ago, but it had yet to be implemented. He emphasized that if the government adopted REAP’s proposal, Pakistan could potentially earn over $5 billion through rice exports.
He underscored that despite intense competition in the global market and higher operational costs within the country, rice exporters were generating billions of dollars without relying on government subsidies.
Suleman urged both the government and the State Bank of Pakistan to continue supporting exporters through export refinance schemes. He noted that after India’s ban on rice exports, global rice prices had risen by $100 per ton, presenting numerous export opportunities for Pakistani traders.
Mahmood Moulvi, a former Chairman of REAP, recalled his initiative to establish MEP regulations during his tenure to ensure fair rice exports. He emphasized that the current MEP aligned with international market trends and should be adhered to accordingly.
The press conference also featured the presence of other notable figures from the Managing Committee, including Anwar Main Noor, Muzammil Chappal, Muhammad Raza, former Chairman REAP Abdul Rahim Jano, and others.