Daily The Business

Mechanization: Rice exports can be bolstered to $5bn in next 3 years

We need to incentivise the industry that uses mechanical dryers for paddy drying, CEO Atlas Foods and  REAP ex-chairman Samee Ullah Naeem Chaudhry

M Jahangir Hayat

LAHORE: Rice exports can be bolstered up to $5billion in the next three years provided latest technologies are introduced in the sector. At present manually, around 50,000-60,000 plants of rice are sown in an acre in the country while using a transplanter can take this number to 100,000 plants an acre leading to increase in per acre yield.

By this way, Pakistan can increase basmati rice production by another 20 per cent without bringing more arable land under rice cultivation.
Introduction of mechanization in rice sector such as transplanters,
laser land levelling and Kabuta harvesters may lead to increased farm
yields and saving pre & post harvest losses thus ensuring availability
of more exportable surplus to fetch precious foreign exchange,
increasing profitability of the growers and ensuring food security.
Similarly, if the land is leveled by use of laser land levelling, we
can ensure saving of 30 per cent of water in rice cultivation besides
saving the fertilizers, pesticides and other nutrients. This will
bring down the cost of sowing adding to the profits of the growers.
This was stated by Samee Ullah Naeem Chaudhry, former chairman of Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) and CEO Atlas Foods while talking to  a group of agriculture  reporters here on Friday.
He said that using rice harvesters can help controlling the
post-harvest losses which account 10 percent of the total crop at
present.
‘World over use of harvester is being encouraged whereas in Pakistan, mostly the Paddy  is cut using wheat harvesters which produces more broken in the Paddy and farmer is losing money.  For example, one percent of additional damage to paddy reduce export price by $10 to a ton and you can multiply this to millions of tons of paddy. If implemented this saving will be a great addition,’ Samee Ullah Naeem claimed.

At reap we are of the policy “Preserve what we grow and Grow More –
Export more”.

The paddy in Pakistan is mostly sun dried that increases yellow
kernels due heat damage and produces fungus that risks generation of mycotoxins, a carcinogenic and geno toxic material. Less than 10
percent of paddy harvest is mechanically dried and we need to
incentivise industry that uses mechanical dryers for paddy drying.
Almost 10% of the crop is damaged due lack of drying facility and by
this interception, we can have surplus grain worth 250 million usd to
export.

The unavailability of low markup funds is considered as impediment for rice exports. If funds aren’t available on priority, we will lose out our competitiveness and will miss the target of 2.5 bn usd for this year.

Demand driven research is the only workable solution as proven
elsewhere in the world many times. We still follow the process of
research in isolation whether in the public or private sector, federal
or provincial or between traditional rice breeder or molecular
scientist. As a combination of the above and other factors, the result
is an agricultural disaster in the making.

If all these measures are handled on priority, we may be able to
double exports to 5 bn usd in next 3 years.

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