We are glad to have Mr Chela Ram Kewlani, with us today.He is CEO K.K. Rice Mills Pvt Ltd, also he is heading the chair of  Pakistan Hindu Council and also working as Senior Vice Chairman Rice Exporter Association of Pakistan. Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) came into existence in 1988-89 ,and started interacting with the Ministry of Commerce and Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock and also the Planning Division of the Government of Pakistan.

Now Mr Kewlani is acting as Senior Vice Chairman of the Association.We will be discussing with Mr Kewlani who is highly experienced man and has been exporting rice vigorously since last two decades proving premium quality rice to my clients

Mr Chela Ram Chelwani
Mr Chela Ram Kewlani

Mr. Chela Please share with us about yourself and your association with Industry?

I am the founder and key management personnel, serving as the CEO of K.K. Group, the Group consist of K.K. Rice  Mills (Pvt.) Ltd., K.K. Commodities in Karachi Pakistan and Ortum General Trading LLC in Dubai, U.A.E, with a vast  and versatile experience in rice export industry. My family has been in commodity trading since three generations and  is well known plus experienced in trading of rice, wheat, sugar and cotton ginning. At present I am also serving as  Senior Vice Chairman of Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) and also the President of Pakistan Hindu  Council.I am highly experienced man who has been exporting rice vigorously since last two decades proving premium  quality rice to my clients. Today I am bestowed with a great respect from my clients and my group is known as among  the top rice exporters from Pakistan. Our Group has a clear objective to attain and maintain perfection in rice  processing, exporting aiming to providing its customers complete satisfaction.
K.K. Group is fully integrated group with having a vast marketing experience and established with modern ideology of prevailing business atmosphere, fully equipped with experienced manpower and latest technology or Rice processing. K.K. Group is managing its name in the leading rice exporters directory almost since the beginning. With the Excellency of his zealful and commitmentful young professionals, the company is gaining its market approach with the highest levels of his customer’s satisfactory feedbacks day by day. The K.K. Group is being driven by its success to his well-trained and dedicated team of professionals having extensive experience. The employees are professionally trained to update their knowledge base and to keep abreast of the changing business environment through international standards. K.K. Group aims to be a leader in exporting high volumes of finest quality rice to satisfy an increasing demand of its customer’s world-wide.

Please share with us about the recent nomination as the largest exporter of non-basmati rice in World. What was your aim while enrolling for it?

 Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan
Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan

Yes, I am very much happy, this all has been done by the grace of almighty God and the support of our professional team. My aim is to be a leader in exporting high volumes of finest quality rice to satisfy an increasing demand of our customer’s world-wide

What is your short term and midterm vision for Asian countries? 

Today, the majority of all rice produced comes from China, India, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Thailand,  Myanmar, Pakistan, Philippines, Korea and Japan.  Asian farmers still account for 87% of the world’s total rice production. In my opinion Rice is the staple of Asia and it is central to the food security of about half of the world population. Asia accounts for more than 90 percent of world rice production and consumption. Rice production is an important source of livelihood for around 140 million rice-farming households and for millions of rural poor who work on rice farms as hired labour. It is a strategic commodity as the overall economic growth and political stability of the region depend on an adequate, affordable and stable supply of this staple crop.

Despite the substantial increase in rice production in the wake of the Green Revolution, important challenges remain in ensuring an adequate and stable supply of this important commodity affordably to poor consumers. Major challenges are the need to produce more rice to meet the rising demand driven by population growth despite slower growth or even a decline in per capita consumption in some countries; deceleration in the growth of rice yield; environmental degradation associated with intensive rice production; a decline in rice biodiversity and loss of rice heritage; global climate change; increasing competition for land, labour and water from industrial and urban sectors; changes in dietary composition with income growth and urbanization; and changes in the demographic composition of labour in rural areas. Similarly, achieving stability in rice price is an important challenge in the context of transmission of shocks due to the increased interconnectedness of rice with other sectors and instability in trade policies of the major exporting countries.

Despite these challenges, several new opportunities exist to increase the impact of the rice sector in enhancing food security and reducing hunger, malnutrition and poverty. Modern scientific approaches and new technologies are making it possible to increase rice productivity in a sustainable manner, add nutritive value to rice, reduce losses from drought and flood, reduce the environmental footprint of rice production and make the rice production system “climate-smart.” Similarly, new opportunities are now available for enhancing rice value chains, reducing post-harvest losses, adding value through secondary processing and ensuring higher quality and safety of rice and rice products. Regional networks for the sharing of rice technology and market information are being established to raise productivity and stabilize the market supply through improved trading arrangements.

Overall, the major strategic issues for the Asian region now are how to modernize and transform the rice sector, given the various challenges. Asian economies are undergoing transformation and there is now a clear need and major opportunities for the rice sector also to transform itself.

Given these challenges and opportunities, a vision statement is needed to guide the strategic re-orientation of the rice sector. The vision for the rice sector is that of “food-secure, better- nourished and prosperous rice farmers and consumers in the Asia-Pacific region who benefit equitably from a vibrant, innovative and transformed rice sector that is more productive, efficient and environmentally sustainable by 2030.” Implicit in this vision statement is the role of Asia in improving world food security as Asia is a net exporting region accounting for 70 percent of world rice exports. The traded volume of rice is small and accounts for only about 7 percent of total world consumption. Nevertheless, trade plays an important role in enhancing the food security of importing countries, including those within the region itself.

Enlighten us about the Pakistani Rice Exports in middle and east Europe- is it welcomed, viewed with some hesitation or seen as a challenge?

India is ahead of Pakistan in basmati rice export to middle and East Europe countries as the exports from India to the European Union in 2012-13 have surged by over 30 per cent from the previous year, while exports from Pakistan have dropped by 9 per cent in the same period. The EU countries offer vast market to Pakistani rice exporters provided they conform to good agricultural practices, phytosanitary arrangements and other such conditions required by the EU, as the consumption of basmati rice in European Union has almost doubled during the last five years. Basmati rice has become biggest rice variety being imported in EU outside of EU. India was doing great job by exploiting the opportunities of agricultural commodities export in the EU market. Pakistani agricultural products could also take advantage of opportunities provided they comply with the conditions imposed by EU legislation on food import etc. A network of 170 laboratories situated in 35 countries and providing services to food, pharmaceutical and environment sectors. The rice sector of Pakistan could take advantage of its services in pre-shipment inspections.

 

Mr. Chela Ram Kewlani Senior Vice Chairman Reap with mr. former PM Mr. Yousuf Raza Gilani at KKCI
Mr. Chela Ram Kewlani Senior Vice Chairman Reap with mr. former PM Mr. Yousuf Raza Gilani at REAP

The import of basmati rice by EU is increasing every year and it has doubled during the last five years.

However, he regretted that Pakistan’s contribution out of total 350,000 tons of rice imports by EU is negligible as compared to its potential. Pakistan should have to comply to sanitary and phytosanitary requirements, adopt global good agricultural practices by the growers and introduction of post harvesting techniques including storage and milling in line with the global standards. However, a bulk of the basmati rice imports was from India, while imports from Pakistan declined from the previous year.

Among the EU countries, the U.K. was the largest importer of basmati rice, followed by the Netherlands, France and Italy. Basmati rice consumption is increasing in Spain also.

It will be needed to translate the broad vision and strategic objectives into specific measurable targets and an implementation plan for Rice Exports in middle and east Europe.

What are the various type rice grown and traded in Pakistan? How is Pakistani basmati Different from other verities available across countries?

Rice, throughout history, has been one of man’s most important foods. Today, this unique grain helps sustain two-thirds of the world’s population. Rice being climatically most adaptable cereal, various types of land management systems for rice cultivation exists, these are otherwise known as cultural types.

In Pakistan, rice is grown in most of the Sindh and Punjab provinces. The former specializing in producing the Long grain white rice IRRI-6 and IRRI-9 and the latter producing world class Basmati rice. The following various type of rice grown in Pakistan is as under:

Super Kernal Basmati: Super Kernal is the finest variety of rice. Characterized by a unique aroma, extralength and slender grain, Basmati tastes delicious. The Average Grain Length (AGL) is 7.00mm & above.

Basmati Rice PK-385:Basmati is the finest variety of rice. Characterized by a unique aroma, extra lengthand slender grain, Basmati tastes delicious. Our Basmati Rice has to be tasted to be believed. The grain becomes two-three times longer on being cooked.

Long Grain 386 Rice:Long Grain 386 Rice a special quality rice, only produced in the province of Punjaband has been gaining international recognition as one of the best qualities of diet rice. Though it is counted as Non-Basmati Rice but its aroma and cooking results match the Basmati Pk-385 variety.

IRRI-6 White Rice:This is the low priced, high volume rice. This variety is grown in the Sindh province ofPakistan and is a major export quality to a number of Middle Eastern and African Ports.

IRRI-9 White Rice:This variety is grown in both the Sindh and Punjab provinces in Pakistan.

Parboiled Rice:Husked rice that first has been heat tempered, soaked in warm water under pressureand dried before milling ; this process allows the inner kernel to retain more of the vitamins and minerals from the bran layer which also clarifies the more yellow kernel after is has been milled. Parboiled rice is healthier than white rice.

Brown Rice:Brown Rice is the least processed form of rice. It has the outer hull removed, but stillretains the bran layers and germs are still intact. The bran layers give this type of rice its characteristic tan color and nut-like flavor. The outside layer of the bran gives this rice a chewier texture than white rice.

Basmati rice is an aromatic rice variety that is grown in Pakistan and India. It is famous for its long slender grain that upon cooking elongates to almost double of its length rather than its width. It is also called the “Queen of Fragrance”.

What are your views about the use of pesticides and arsenic content in rice cultivation?

 In my opinion the use of pesticides and arsenic contents should not be used due to their side effects to human beings and the rice must be organic, but due to the present circumstances we could not grow rice faster and in good quantity without using the pesticide and arsenic contents. Pesticides and arsenic content are used to prevent rice plant from disease and make grow faster and in the big quantity.

Arsenic is present in many foods, including grains, fruits and vegetables where it is present due to absorption from the soil and water. While most crops don’t readily take up much arsenic from the ground, rice is different because it takes up arsenic from soil and water more readily than other grains. It is therefore recommended that not to use pesticides and arsenic content in rice cultivation, but the drawback is if we do not use pesticides and arsenic contents in rice cultivation then unable to get the faster growth and required quantity.

In which way Events and exhibitions promote the relations among rice traders and rice exhibitions? And which are the recent exhibitions and Conferences which your association is supporting?

 The major purpose of the Rice Exhibitions and Events are to advertise and introduce the history as well as tangible and intangible achievements of the rice civilization and by doing that, we can boost production, trading, and export of rice products, helping to raise the status of rice in international markets; set up and develop the relationship among relevant parties of the sector. These activities will promote investment, trade and business relations among foreign partners.

The REAP – Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan has planning Trade Delegation to different countries around the world to promote the Pakistani Rice business in all over the world. REAP has sent many trade delegations to leading Rice Importing countries, such as Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Iran, European countries, Canada, East & West African countries, China, India, Mauritius, Madagascar and Comoros and acquired great achievements.

REAP is also full supporting to the leading International Exhibitions i.e. SIAL, Paris – France, ANUGA, Germany, Fulfood, Dubai, U.A.E., World Food Moscow, Russia etc, many of REAP members are participating in these exhibitions. REAP always support their members for attending any kind of exhibition and Conferences in all over the world.

What are the challenges with rice business in your country and steps taken by you to address them?

The Senior Vice Chairman REAP, Mr. Chela Ram said the rice industry is stagnating and facing tough times due to lack of planning on the side of the ministries of agriculture, commerce and finance. The rice exporters deserve the best attention from the government as next to textiles it is the most important foreign exchange earning sector.

The export of basmati rice has suffered a setback and non basmati rice is not fetching good price. The farmers are in turmoil because of high cost of inputs. They are getting inferior seeds, fertilizers and the pesticides and insecticides are counterfeit and fake. Surprisingly the growers associations are passive and not taking up the matter with the authorities.

If this state of affairs continues it will damage the industry. The milling plants have old machinery and are not resorting to paddy drying by machines. Pakistani exporters have to work hard to establish their brands.

REAP would advocate the cause of the rice exporters and enable the rice exporters to repay the banks the huge amounts borrowed under export refinance scheme as unless and until the exports pick up the exporters liabilities will keep increasing.

The exporters need more time to adjust their export refinance loans and are also demanding a reduction in finance rate due to lowering of discount rate.

The export credit guarantee insurance is urgently required to enable exporters to export to third world countries and discounting of bills under letter of credits of low ranking banks.

What was the scenario of rice industry couple of years ago, and where is it today? Where do you see rice industry in next 5 years? What do you see as the disruptive innovations in rice industry in the next 5 years and 10 years?

Historically, Pakistan’s basmati rice has been the most sought-after commodity in the world, specially in the region of UAE, Europe & USA. Liked world wide in terms of luster, grain length and more so aroma and palatability. But the couple of years the Export figures are not encouraging.

“Pakistan’s basmati rice exports have declined due to the success of Indian brands in the international market, but we can fight to regain the market share if we introduce good quality brands and invest in them”.

Lack of professionalism is one of the reasons behind the low exports. Rice is still part of the small and medium size industries with only a couple of players.

Indian companies crossed that bridge many years ago and have professional managers handling their business who know how to build and manage brands. “Brand building requires investment and patience.

The rice sector in Pakistan has generally not been willing to make that investment. The industry also does not possess the scale to be able to afford the kind of investment required.

However, the situation in the non-basmati rice category is even worse as its brands are almost non-existent.

A good brand-building effort can take a minimum of around two to three years in the international market. It requires introduction in at least six to seven markets in the Middle East and investment during the brand-building period.

The concepts in launching a domestic or international rice brand are almost the same, but the execution for each market is different, the company has to invest in market research separately to gauge consumer product and price preferences, find the right distributors, and ensure placement. In this way in the next 5 to 10 years we will capture good markets for Pakistani Rice.

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We Thank Mr. Chela Ram Kewlani for devoting his valuable time for our portal and wish him all the best for his coming projects.

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