Posted by : shabbirbhutta Thursday, 9 June 2011


Pakistan has received a request from Japanese rice company for growing “Japonica Rice” in Pakistan under a buy-back arrangement amid fears that the tsunami-hit rice fields may take too long to recover from the salt water.
The samples of Japonica, a short variety of rice, are expected to be received in a few days which would be grown on a trial basis in Sindh and Punjab rice fields.
This may be a big market niche for Pakistani growers as rice has a spiritual touchstone in Japan and the Japanese government is providing tariff protection in a bid to discourage import of cheap rice from other rice producing countries to protect local rice farmers.
Talking to Dawn, Chairman, Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP); Mr. Irfan Ahmad Sheikh said the association has received a request from a semi-Japanese firm in this regard, and it would help Pakistani growers to develop a new variety of rice. This can be mixed with our domestic varieties for better yield.
If the drive proves successful in Pakistan, he said 100,000 tons of rice would be exported to Japan under the buy-back arrangement.
Currently, Pakistan is not exporting rice to Japan despite the fact that its total export value of rice to the world could reach $3 billion this year.
A key factor for the Japanese rice field could be how long it takes for the salt to wash out from the fields, some still flooded with seawater. This could be a safe way to ensure uninterrupted supply of rice to Japanese consumers, he said.
He said a Japanese delegation would soon arrive here to discuss modalities of the buyback arrangement with government officials and private sector. He said progress in this area totally depends on trial production of new variety in Pakistan.
Mr. Sheikh said agriculture research centers would also be involved to grow Japonica rice in a bid to secure a market share in the Japanese closed market.
Japan is the world’s second largest market for rice but the Japanese government has protected its farmers by imposing a 490 % duty on rice imports and also opposing the duty lowering proposals in ongoing global trade negotiation on agriculture products.
 Under WTO requirements, Japan imports at least 770,000 tons of rice a year. But nearly 90% of that is processed into rice crackers, soup paste and sauce.
(By Mubarak Zeb Khan, DAWN Islamabad)
Islamabad: May 25, 2011

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