Research on producing export-quality rice
Sri Lanka will export the excess rice produced in the country in the
future and rice research programs today focus on developing rice
varieties that have demand in the export market, said the Director of
the Rice Research and Development Institute (RRDI) of the Department of
Agriculture, Dr. Amitha Bentota. Dr. Bentota said that there are
short-term and long-term programs to produce export quality rice.
"In the short-term program we will attempt to export two of our rice
varieties that meet the export market demand. However, the export demand
is for long, slender and sticky rice varieties which we don't produce.
There is a demand for high quality Samba varieties as well."
"There is also a niche market for local rice varieties especially
from expatriate Sri Lankans for whom exports are already taking place.
Our short term target is to cater to these two markets," she said.
She said that under a long-term plan, RRDI is developing rice
varieties with long, slender and sticky properties.
The program is a private-public partnership and the marketing is done
by private sector companies.Export demand is high for Basmathi rice
varieties produced mainly in Pakistan and India.
This is very competitive market but Sri Lanka cannot produce Basmathi
varieties which are grown under special climatic conditions, she said.
Dr. Bentota said that to cater to the export market there should be a
sufficient production of the variety we export. Cultivation for export
markets will start in the Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Ampara and Mannar
districts and initially the two rice varieties will be promoted in these
areas, she said.
Analysts said that exporting the excess production of rice is the
best solution for the issue faced by the paddy farming community.
It will help to stabilise the market price of paddy at a profitable
level and increase farmer income. Despite government subsidies paddy
farming is becoming less attractive to new generations.
According to the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) for the
past four decades, the global rice market has been dominated by a few
exporters, Thailand, Vietnam, the United States and Pakistan and they
account for 60-70% of total exports.
Thailand is the top rice exporter in the world. The import side is
fragmented with many countries importing a small amount of rice and the
top six importers account for only 20-30% of the market share.