ISLAMABAD (APP) – Federal Minister for Commerce Khurram Dastagir Khan on Friday informed the National Assembly that export of rice to Indonesia, Philippine and Sri Lanka would start very soon.

Replying to various questions during Question Hour, he said , agreement to export rice to Indonesia has been finalized while with Philippine it is in final stage, adding that concern of Sri Lanka about quality has been removed and export will start soon.

He said exports of rice in the current markets are also being increased besides Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) is actively supporting the rice exporters and finding new markets as Pakistan has world class Basmati rice.

The Minister said an agricultural exhibition was held in Russia for the first time and Russian Federation would become a new market for Pakistan, adding that in the recent days talks with officials of South Africa, Russia, France, Indonesia, Angola, Germany were held to increase export of Pakistani rice to these countries.

He said surplus stock of basmati rice is available with the private sector in the country due to bumper crop and less exports. However, it is hard to determine the exact quantity of stocks.

The Minister said the reason behind decrease in export is depressed prices of rice in international market due to introduction of new low cost high yielding varieties of rice by international competitors.

He said the export of rice is in the private sector and one time purchase of stocks by the government will not resolve the problem. He, however, said the government is in contact with the stakeholders to devise a mechanism to support the private sector in export efforts.

He said the Prime Minister has constituted a committee to support the growers and has announced Rs 350 billion Kissan Package to help mitigate sufferings of the growers, particularly rice growers.