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ISLAMABAD: High Commissioner of Pakistan to Malaysia, Masood Khalid has said that his country is looking to export more rice to Malaysia which has emerged as one of the choice destinations for the Pakistani rice exporters as reflected in the 244 per cent increase in the rice export to Malaysia during the last two years.

In an interview with Malaysia's state-run Bernama News Agency, Masood Khalid said the Pakistani rice exports, including Basmati and non-Basmati rice, to Malaysia had been on an upward trend over the last three years, says a message received here from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on Thursday.

He noted that rice exports had consistently grown from 43,000 MT in  2009 to 123,000 MT in 2010, registering an increase of 186 per cent. "I am happy to report that exports have further gone up to 148,000 MT last year, growing by 20.3 per cent," he said.

However, he said Pakistan was looking to export more rice to Malaysia and for this purpose negotiations were already in progress with Malaysia's Padiberas Nasional Bhd (Bernas), responsible for procurement and processing of paddy, as well as importation, warehousing, distribution and marketing of rice in Malaysia.

"With the high demand and consumption of rice among Malaysians, Pakistan could boost its exports, surpassing its 148,000 metric tonnes rice exports last year," he said.

Masood said Pakistan had reviewed its plans, including holding discussions with Bernas and persuading the agency to organise "Buying Missions" to Pakistan to buy rice.

"We are engaging with Bernas on a regular basis. Bernas has, so far, led two teams to Pakistan to seal contracts with Pakistani exporters in the wake of floods in Thailand and Vietnam," he said, adding Bernas would be planning a visit to Pakistan again in the near future to explore possibility of further rice imports from Pakistan.

Masood Khalid said Pakistan had also been in regular touch with Malaysia's Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Ministry, and earlier in February 2012, Chairman Trade Development Authority of Pakistan, Tariq Iqbal Puri visited Malaysia and met the Minister, Datuk Seri Noh Omar, and other senior officials.

He said the Pakistan government was also working with the Rice Exporters' Association of Pakistan (REAP) to persuade its members to export more rice to Malaysia.

REAP plays its role in assisting, facilitating and promoting Pakistan's rice business and worldwide exports.

Asked whether Pakistan has any specific target for rice exports to Malaysia this year and onwards, he noted that Malaysia's annual import of rice is around one million MT.

"However, we were told that Malaysia had negotiated rice contracts worth 0.8 million MT with other countries for the next five years.

This leaves us with only 200,000 MT to export to Malaysia on a yearly basis though we would like to export much more than this," he said.

He said that considering the exportable surplus after catering fo Pakistan's domestic consumption, which is around 2.5 million MT, Pakistan is actually ready to export more rice to Malaysia, subject to the Malaysian government's approval.

According to REAP, rice is the third largest crop grown in Pakistan, after wheat and cotton.

There are different varieties of rice grown in Pakistan, such as Super Basmati, Basmati PK-385, Irri-6, Irri-9 and KS-282. Pakistan is primarily known for its aromatic rice (Super Basmati/Basmati PK-385).