KARACHI - The exports of rice increased to $1.18 billion during July to December period of the current financial year against $900 million rice exports in the same period of last fiscal year, Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan told The Nation. The export of rice during six months of FY09 was $218 million higher over last year's amount of $900 million dollars, Rahim Janu President of Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) said. It may be noted here that rice has dominated export of food group as it attracted half of the total exports of the food group. According to the exporters, the pace of export of rice has become slow due to the federal government's intervention through TCP and PASSCO as these two government bodies were paying above the price of the commodity in the international market. Rahim Janu said that the pace of export of this commodity was slow but the REAP was optimistic of the achievement of annul target of $2.30 billion dollars exports in FY09. Due to intervention of TCP and PASSCO, the prices of different varieties of rice have increased in the local market, Rahim Janu said. He pointed out that the price of Irri-6 has reached 28/per kg from earlier prices of Rs19-per kg while basmati prices jumped to Rs65-per kg from earlier prices of Rs55-per kg owing to intervention of TCP. Meanwhile, he informed that on behalf of REAP, he has written a letter to Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani and reminded him the role of private sector growth and contribution in rice exports by attaining 11% of Pakistan's total exports, crossing from a mere $300 million to $2.3 billion last year. Rahim in his letter written to PM urged the government to give a serious thought on critical issue of intervention in rice sector as exports have stand stilled on account of speculators entry on an anticipation of TCP's Rice tenders. The growers need to be compensated directly without involving rice procurement by Government on higher than market prices and private sector can not afford to buy the commodity above its international price. Therefore it is humbly requested to save us from default situation in the event of spiral increase in prices domestically, he urged. He said, "We indeed appreciate recent policy of providing Imported Urea at the rate of Rs600/- per bag Ex-Gwadar port, ensuring smooth supply to reach farmers under Government's vigilance and monitoring according to the size of Growers land holdings, while this system was really working and the price of Urea suddenly dropped from Rs900 to Rs660 per Bag." The same method should be adopted in providing cash relief directly to Growers to offset the last year's high cost of inputs. REAP president in his letter further said the TCP's tenders for processed rice for exports without having confirmed selling commitment may add losses due to additional warehousing cost, need to again process the already processed rice due to infestation, and if not handled properly may become unfit for Human Consumption as many foreign countries have recently enforced stringent measures to ensure cleanliness of foodstuff cargo entry at ports, for which only Quality rice exporters having modern ISO 9000/14000 and HCCP management standards complying tough conditions of international standards. He said the entry of TCP is yet to be confirmed through award of rice tender, but speculators are on run to corner rice for hoarding and an anticipated price hike of uneven behaviour has forced rice exports into default zone, and expensive rice may stop the export process completely due to ongoing stiff international competition, an unprecedented depression and global down trend in commodities, Janu said. A delegation of the REAP would meet Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani during next week in Islamabad and brief him about the problems being faced by the rice exporters, Rahim Janu said.