Exporters and farmers said on Saturday that Pakistan is expected to lose a large portion of its coarse rice exports to the international market, but its basmati presence in the Middle East is likely to remain.
According to an estimate, 35 percent of the crop was washed away as a result of the flood.
Pakistan is reeling from the effects of climate change, which has resulted in record rainfall and melting glaciers, which have led to widespread flooding since mid-June.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who is currently on a visit to Pakistan, has said that the South Asian country has lost about 30 billion dollars from the floods, and has called for international cooperation to deal with the disaster.
The deadly floods damaged two of Pakistan’s agricultural hubs, Sindh and Punjab provinces, where rice was grown around the world.
Shahzad Ali Malik, chairman of Pakistan Hi-Tech Hybrid Seed Association (PHHSA) and founder of Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan, said, “Our initial estimates show that the rice crop in Sindh is about 35 percent damaged.”
“The impact of crop losses on exports will be negative and may decrease by about 200,000 tonnes.
The exact situation will become clear after the water recedes from the rice fields.
However, the country was confident that the losses would not affect the country’s rice exports to Middle Eastern countries, which are major basmati buyers.
“Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries are major markets for Pakistani basmati rice, a large portion of which comes from Punjab, which is largely intact. But exports of coarser varieties to other destinations may suffer.
According to official data, in 2021, Pakistan exported 395,176 metric tons of rice to the Middle East, valued at $277.5 million, including 114,408 metric tons to Saudi Arabia and 203,939 metric tons to the UAE.
But Pakistani exporters and growers fear that the export of non-Basmati varieties to the international market, especially to African countries, may take a big hit.
Sindh province accounts for 80% of rice exports, but it is estimated that more than 50% of this year has been wasted. Some rice-growing areas still face the risk of flooding,” Sindh Chamber of Agriculture senior vice-president Nabi Bakhsh Satheo told.
“Pakistan exported $2.5 billion worth of rice last fiscal year, comprising 80 percent of rice varieties, with Sindh’s share of about $1.3 billion.
The major market for coarse rice is Africa and basmati rice goes to the Gulf states.
According to initial estimates, Satheo said, up to $800 million worth of rice crops have been washed away by the floods in Sindh alone.
In a briefing on Tuesday, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah said the province had suffered a loss of 344.2 billion rupees ($1.5 billion) to various crops, with the rice crop losing 54.50 billion rupees ($238.5 million).
Last year, Pakistan’s rice production was about 8 million tons, of which 4.5 million tons were exported and about 3.5 million tons were used locally, but according to rice exporters, production and exports are expected to decline this year.
Rafiq Sulaiman, convenor of the Standing Committee on Rice, Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI), said, “After the decline in local crops and the allocation of grains for local consumption, I think this is a big success.
It will happen if we can export 1.7 billion dollar’s worth of rice.”
“However, government data is still waiting for a definitive assessment of export potential.”
Pakistani exporters and farmers expect rice prices to rise in the international market as other major rice-exporting countries are also reeling from the effects of climate change.