Pakistan may export 15 per cent less rice this year after an ongoing power crisis affected milling, a senior official in the world's fifth biggest rice exporting nation said on Thursday.
The announcement could further affect world rice prices which are near record highs, a key issue particularly in Asia where the grain is a staple.
Pakistan exported 3.3 million tonnes of rice last year but this year it will drop to 2.8 million tonnes, said Muhammad Azhar, chairman of the Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan.
"The decline in our rice export will mainly occur due to power shortages," Azhar told AFP.
"Mills have not been working to their full capacity due to electricity shortages. The power shortages have also badly affected husking and packing of the crop," he added.
Pakistan has been badly affected by power cuts in recent months, caused by a lack of electricity generating infrastructure and theft of electricity.
He said the 2.8 million tons was expected to fetch $1.2 billion (Dh4.40 billion) for Pakistan.
Unlike most of the rest of Asia, wheat is the main diet staple in Pakistan.
Pakistan therefore would not need to follow neighbouring India in imposing a rice export ban, Azhar said.
There was also no domestic shortage of rice and the country had sufficient carry-over stocks before the new crop arrives in September, he said, adding that Pakistan's total production this year would be 5.5 million tonnes.
He had, however, suggested to the government not to export basmati rice to India to prevent re-export of the commodity by the country.
"We will lose the market if the government allows export of rice to India," he added. (AFP)
Pakistan rice exports set to fall 15%