KARACHI - At least 0.4 million tons of rice has been hoarded by the mafia in different parts of the country, The Nation learnt on Wednesday. In Karachi, the hoarders have stocked 0.1 million tons rice with the aim to earn a hefty profit by giving artificial rise to rice prices in the country, sources said. They said the land mafia, stock brokers, textile industrialists and other businessmen were involved in the hoarding of rice in the country. Rice exporters said the hoarding of a huge quantity of rice was resulting in artificial shortage of the commodity and surge in the prices of the commodity in local market. A leading exporter disclosed that out of total stock of 0.4 million tons, more than 0.1 million tons rice were lying hidden in Karachi. Keeping in view to continuous surge in the prices of rice from last year, the land mafia, textile industrialists and owners of patrol pumps have jumped in rice business and engaged in hoarding of commodity in large quantity which caused hike in domestic prices of the rice, he said. He said, "We will provide the list of these hoarders if government started crackdown against them". These hoarders are the same persons who some time ago had indulged in wheat hoarding and had created a severe shortage of important food staple in country and now indulged in the hoarding rice aimed to get huge profits amid soaring prices. The crackdown against these hoarders could stabilize in local market. When contacted by The Nation former president of Rice Exporters Association Pakistan (REAP) Rahim Janoo said that despite more than $1.2 billion dollars annual earnings in foreign exchange, the previous governments did not accord priority to solve the issue relating to rice exporters because the rice was not like the wheat crop. He pointed out that the rent-seeking practice being done by the middlemen and hoarders had badly affected the exporters and cultivators, the real players and concerns of the export trade. The land mafia is also involved in black-marketing of big stores/godowns  as they have increased rent from Rs 6 per square foot to Rs 12 PSF of each store/godown  being used for the hoarding of rice. He said that the exporters were buying rice from the hoarders at the exorbitant rates for the export purposes. Rahim Janoo said 6.2 million tons of rice production is expected in next crop against 5.4 million tons produced in the current crop owing to favourable weather conditions and attractive market prices. He said that growers had received handsome prices of their crop which would encourage them to cultivate rice crop on more area. He pointed out the adverse situation faced by the parboiling units of rice due to the paddy being purchased by the rice dealers that has created its shortage. He further said the parboiling units are facing a very tough situation due to the higher prices of paddy due to the involvement of the middlemen.