ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistans rice exports jumped 50 per cent to 4.5 million tonnes in the year to June, after a strategy to keep prices low helped raise demand in African and Gulf countries, a top industry official said on Monday. A lack of government intervention in the rice business and a continuing Indian ban on the export of non-basmati rice also contributed to rise in Pakistans exports, which totalled 3 million tonnes in the 2008/09 (July-June) financial year, traders say. Our rice exports this year have been exceptionally good. By the end of June, our exports will touch the 4.5 million tonnes mark, the chairman of the Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan, Malik Mohammad Jehangir, told Reuters. We had a new strategy to keep our prices lower by $10-12 a tonne as compared to others to increase volume and that worked, said Jehangir whose organisation handles the bulk of the rice exports. According to the official statistics bureau, Pakistan exported 3.65 million tonnes of all types of rice in the first 10 months of the year to April, a more than 66 percent increase over rice exports in the same period last year. Out of the total exports, Pakistan exported about 800,000 tonnes of basmati rice through April, compared with more than 774,119 tonnes over the same period last year. Exports of non-basmati rice rose more than 100 percent to 2.86 million tonnes in the same period. Official export figures for May are not available. South Africa, Saudi Arabia and Dubai were the main buyers while Pakistan was also able to sell more rice this year to Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, Jehangir said. Thailand and Vietnam were Pakistans main rivals in the non-basmati category as India forbids the export of most varieties of rice to help tame high domestic food inflation. Pakistan and India compete in the export of basmati rice. Pakistan was aiming to export 4 million tonnes of rice in 2008/09 but fell short by one million tonnes, which traders blamed on a government decision to buy supplies from farmers. This pushed up prices and left Pakistani rice uncompetitive in the international market. Government purchasing of rice and paddy in the last year was aimed at maintaining stability in the domestic market in the face of a bumper crop of 6.7 million tonnes of milled rice. The government did not intervene this year, which helped exports more, traders say. The 2009/10 crop is estimated to be 6.5 million tonnes. The government has set a rice output target of 6 million tonnes for 2010/11. Farmers have grown more wheat and cotton because of better returns, and rice output is expected to be lower next year, food ministry officials say. Sowing for the next rice crop begins in the next 10-15 days.