LAHORE – Opposing the import of rice from India, Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) on Saturday urged the Ministry of Commerce to include all varieties of rice in negative list to avoid dumping of Indian rice in Pakistani market to save farmers, traders and exporters from losses besides avoiding losing very important markets of Afghanistan, Iran and Central Asian States.

While talking to the media, REAP Chairman Javed Islam Agha said that cheaper Indian rice would reach the market of Afghanistan by land route, which in turn will badly affect Pakistan’s rice exports to Afghanistan especially.

The REAP chairman said that the import of rice from India would badly hit local production, causing huge losses to exporters, traders and farmers because cheaper import of agri products from India would ruin agricultural production potential of the country.

Agha said if the government allows the import of Indian rice in to Pakistan, then our farmers should also be given the facilities matching with the subsidies being given to Indian farmers, so that our farmers are able to protect their livelihood. ‘Indian government is giving about $30 billion in subsidies to its farmers. The cost of urea and DAP is less than 50 per cent of the Pakistani prices and Indian farmers are also getting cheaper electricity and fuel.

Referring to media reports, Javed Islam Agha said that Pakistani buyers had placed the first order of at least 2500 tons of Indian rice out of which 100 tons had already reached the local markets of Punjab. Traditionally, he said the price of Indian basmati and other rice varieties used to be at least $100-300 metric tons higher than Pakistani rice varieties but after the arrival of new crop in October-November 2011, India is taking advantage of its huge stocks, bumper crop and devaluation of its rupee by 15-20 per cent and reduced prices by 20 to 30 per cent and now they were selling rice $100-300 metric ton cheaper than Pakistani Basmati and other varieties such as Kainat (1121).

Recently, he said the Indian government has also reduced the Minimum Export Price (MEP) on basmati rice from $900 to $ 700 per metric ton, which is far below the Pakistani Basmati rice prices of $900-1100 metric tons. Earlier, the Indian government also lifted ban on export of non-basmati rice and allowed export of 2 million tons of non-basmati rice. Consequently, Pakistan has lost its brown rice market of EU of nearly 170,000 tons to India and is facing great difficulties for export of its basmati rice to Middle East and other countries of the world. The prices of long grain Pakistan IRRI had gone down drastically which is hitting the farmers of Sindh who are demanding compensation for their losses, Agha said.