MABAD (Reuters) - Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) said on Tuesday it aims to export 4 million tonnes in fiscal year 2010/11, about 1 million tonnes more than previous estimates made after destructive floods in August.
Irfan Ahmed Sheikh, chairman of the Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP), said total rice production would be nearly 6 million tonnes.
A senior food ministry official on Tuesday, however, low-balled REAPs estimate and said output would be about 5 million tonnes.
We dispute the governments figure, Sheikh told Reuters. Our assessments are that the production will be nearly 6 million tonnes. We are now aiming to export about 4 million tonnes of rice this year on good global demand.
REAPs export target tops previous trader estimates by almost a million tonnes.
The government in September estimated losses of up to two million tonnes from the August floods. Before the floods, the food ministry expected 6.1 million tonnes for the 2010/11 crop.
The countrys eight-month-long rice season runs from April to November and final estimates of the crop size will not be available until late December.
The reason for the increased estimate, Sheikh said, is that the monsoon floods, which devastated more than 2.4 million hectares of farmland, did not affect the rice crop in the Punjab province, which produces 60 percent of the total national output.
Production losses in the second-largest rice growing province of Sindh were estimated at about 500,000 tonnes, but that would largely be offset by the better yield in Punjab, Sheikh said.
The president of the Agri-Forum Pakistan agreed with the REAPs production estimates.
Despite losses in Sindh, our production estimate is between 5.7 million tonnes and 6.1 million tonnes, as per-acre yield in Punjab has increased by up to 10 percent, said Ibrahim Mughal.
Pakistan had a bumper crop of 6.7 million tonnes of milled rice in 2009/10 and exported about 4.5 million tonnes.
Pakistan retained up to 800,000 tonnes from the 2009/10 crop, traders said.
The countrys domestic consumption of milled rice is about 2.3 million tonnes.
Rice exports in July-October 2010 rose by 17.26 percent to 1.1 million tonnes, compared with 940,838 tonnes in the same period last year, according to the Federal Bureau of Statistics. In the July-Oct period in 2010/11, exports of basmati rice stood at 304,141 tonnes, almost the same as last year. Other varieties totalled 799,052 tonnes for the same period, compared with 636,773 tonnes.
Rice is Pakistans third largest crop after wheat and cotton and contributes about 1.6 percent to the countrys gross domestic product.