LAHORE - India is ahead of Pakistan in basmati rice export to EU countries as the exports from India to the European Union in 2012-13 have surged by over 30 per cent from the previous year, while exports from Pakistan have dropped by 9 per cent in the same period.

The EU countries offer vast market to Pakistani rice exporters provided they conform to good agricultural practices, phytosanitary arrangements and other such conditions required by the EU, as the consumption of basmati rice in European Union has almost doubled during the last five years.

These views were expressed by the speakers at a luncheon arranged by the Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan in honour of Dr. Werner Nader, the Managing Director Eurofins Global Control GmbH here on Wednesday. Besides Dr. Werner, the ceremony was also addressed by the REAP Chairman Ch. Masood Iqbal and former Vice Chairman Samee Ullah Chaudhry.

Dr. Werner spoke about importance of Basmati rice for the EU market and challenges and opportunities for Pakistani basmati rice exporters. He said Basmati has become biggest rice variety being imported in EU outside of EU. He said that India was doing great job by exploiting the opportunities of agricultural commodities export in the EU market. He said that Pakistani agricultural products could also take advantage of opportunities provided they comply with the conditions imposed by EU legislation on food import etc.

He also threw light on his organization Eurofin and said it was a network of 170 laboratories situated in 35 countries and providing services to food, pharmaceutical and environment sectors. He said that rice sector of Pakistan could take advantage of its services in pre-shipment inspections.

Former Vice Chairman REAP Samee Ullah Chaudhry speaking on this occasion said that import of basmati rice by EU is increasing every year and it has doubled during the last five years. However, he regretted that Pakistan’s contribution out of total 350,000 tons of rice imports by EU is negligible as compared to its potential.  He stated that Pakistan should have to comply to sanitary and phytosanitary requirements, adopt global good agricultural practices by the growers and introduction of post harvesting techniques including storage and milling in line with the global standards.

He said that overall, 27 countries in the EU imported around 278,902 tons of basmati rice from India and Pakistan in 2012-13, up about 21% from the previous year. However, a bulk of the basmati rice imports was from India, while imports from Pakistan declined from the previous year.

India accounted for around 233,985 tons or about 84% of total basmati rice imports by the EU in 2012-13, which is up about 30% from the previous year, while basmati rice imports from Pakistan stood at around 44,917 tons in 2012-13 which is down about 9% from 2011-12.

Among the EU countries, the U.K. was the largest importer of basmati rice in 2012-13 importing about 132,701 tons, followed by the Netherlands (about 44,893 tons), France (about 29,158 tons) and Italy (about 27,618 tons). Basmati rice consumption is increasing in Spain.