KARACHI: Union of Small and Medium Enterprises UNISAME invited the attention of the Trade Development Authority TDAP to accept the fact that basmati rice is losing ground and the non-basmati varieties have taken over and
rice exporters need a free hand to export blended rice like Indian rice exporters to compete in global markets.
President UNISAME Zulfikar Thaver invited the attention of Abdul Karim Daudpota director general DG TDAP to the big fall in exports of basmati rice due to the restrictions on rice exporters in Pakistan to export rice as basmati only if it is pure basmati rice whereas in India the rice exporters are exporting blended rice of basmati and non basmati rice
varieties as basmati rice without any hindrance.
Thaver requested the DG TDAP to take up the matter with the chief executive officer of TDAP that basmati rice has lost ground and now the non basmati 1121 variety which is more costlier than basmati rice is in vogue and demanded all over the gulf and middle east. Likewise the 386 variety which is again non basmati rice is very popular and in great demand.
He pointed out that blending of basmati rice with non basmati rice is a matter of skill and a good processor does the blending in such a manner that the rice gives good cooking result, is tasty and also remains aromatic. There is no harm in blending basmati rice with higher priced non basmati if the buyer so desires and it is in his knowledge.
Indian rice exporters are exporting blended rice regularly under the basmati label whereas the Pakistani exporters are restrained and are compelled to refuse valuable orders due to the hurdles created by the Quality Review Committee QRC which prevents exports of blended rice of SME rice exporters.
The union invited the attention of the DG TDAP to the futility of the restriction and lamented that Indian rice exporters have an edge over Pakistani rice exporters and the SME exporters are losing business and the exports of basmati rice is declining.
The QRC was set up to protect the export of non basmati rice as basmati rice when the variety of 1121 did not exist but now that this variety has taken over and is considered the best rice and accepted as top of the line rice, there is no sense in blocking our exports of blended rice of basmati with 1121 as it makes it better in cooking, in taste and in look.
In fact the QRC is no longer required and should be closed as it is not serving any purpose and proving costly. It is pertinent to note that the value addition in rice processing is done by the SME rice exporters whereas the big rice exporters are exporting non basmati rice in bulk.
The big rice exporters export blended rice as basmati rice without any hitch as the QRC obliges them due to their influence and their position. The union desires level playing field for all and due to restrictions imposed on the SME rice exporters many SME units have closed down. The union has requested the DG TDAP to examine the matter and carry out a study to determine the reasons for fall in basmati rice exports and take steps in the best interest of Pakistan.