Quality review committee irks rice exporters

KARACHI: The Union of Small and Medium Enterprises (UNISAME) appreciated the efforts of the prime minister (PM) Nawaz Sharif for convening a meeting in Islamabad of basmati stakeholders to examine the fall in prices of basmati rice and urged the PM to facilitate the farm sector and the basmati rice exporters.

The growers and the exporters are two sides of the coin and both play an important role in the promotion of our traditional variety of basmati all over the world. Basmati is grown in India and Pakistan only and Pakistani super basmati is acclaimed as the best basmati rice.

President UNISAME Zulfikar Thaver thanked the PM for his concern and taking notice of the fall in basmati rice prices and invited his attention to the difficulties faced by the SME farmers and exporters and urged the PM to remove all hurdles in the export of rice and facilitate the SME exporters with bridge financing to enable them get pre-shipment and post shipment finance from commercial banks on the basis of collateral management.

He said the Quality Review Committee (QRC) is an hurdle for rice exporters as it is hindering export of rice processed and exported in the brand names of the shippers and the buyers and cannot comprehend the marketing strategies of the exporters who have to compete with India.

He said there are no restrictions in India for basmati rice exporters who are free to export their own brands having major portion as basmati skillfully blended with other more expensive varieties but in Pakistan unfortunately the QRC which is not eligible nor qualified nor an accredited pre-shipment body is a major hindrance in the export of basmati rice.

Thaver also urged the PM to fix support price for basmati and other varieties of rice to support the SME farmers to enable them obtain a fair price for their paddy. The SME farmers are dominated by the middlemen who finance them on harsh terms and get lien on their crops before harvest. The SME farmers are compelled to sell their crops to the middlemen and the millers in haste who drive hard bargains.

It is very important that the farm sector is financed by the commercial banks for seeds, fertilizers,harvesting, logistics and distribution of the produce comfortably without pressurized to dispose off in a hurry. Thaver also invited the attention of the PM to the urgent need to upgrade the rice industry to improve the supply chain based on the standards and specifications.

The Small and Medium Enterprises Development Authority (SMEDA) could play an important role in the up gradation of the rice industry by introducing modern methods of paddy drying, parboiling, steaming and processing reinforced vitaminized rice. There is also ample demand for pre-cooked rice and SMEDA could educate the rice sector on the modernization.

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