Rice accounts for nearly ten percent of Pakistan’s exports. Out of Pakistan’s exports of $23.2 billion in FY18, rice exports were $2 billion. Yet our rice yields are below global average at 39 maunds per acre. Therefore, improving farm productivity and cutting post-harvest losses (15-20%) present an opportunity for significantly increasing rice exports over the next five years. PAC has been working with the Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) since December, 2018 to develop and implement a multi-year program for increasing Pakistan’s rice exports.
The following interventions have been identified to help increase farm output and reduce losses:
- Better seed: The provision of good quality seed can make a significant increase in yields.
- Laser land leveling: Laser land levelingreduces water use by at least 15-20 percent and increases yields by 10-12 percent.
- Mechanical nursery sowing and transplantation: Mechanical nursery sowing and transplantation is expected increase plant population to 100,000 plants per acre compared to manual nursery raising and transplantation, which only achieves 45,000-50,000 plants per acre.
- Mechanical harvesting: Mechanical harvesting through rice-specific harvesters decreases paddy breakage up to 10% and cuts shattering losses by 5-7 maunds per acre, compared to harvesting using wheat combine harvesters.
- Mechanical drying and silo storage: Mechanical drying of harvested paddy cuts quality losses by preventing aflatoxins development, whereas storage of paddy in silos after drying cuts quantity losses by preventing rodent and insect infestation, spillage, etc.
PAC is actively coordinating between all stakeholders which includes leading progressive farmers, exporters, and input providers among others and conducted pilot projects in three districts in Sindh during the 2019 and 2020 rice seasons. Key interventions to improve rice yields which were piloted include mechanized nursery laying, transplantation, and harvesting of rice. After evaluation of the pilot results, the 5 sponsors of this program which include Jaffer Group and 4 leading rice exporters (Garibsons, Conwill Pakistan, RBI, and MM Commodities) have commissioned PAC to prepare a business plan for formation of a rice machinery services company.