Govt asked to bail out crumbling rice sector

June 6, 2015 Off By Web Desk

KARACHI: President Pakistan Businessmen and Intellectuals Forum (PBIF) and former provincial minister Mian Zahid Hussain on Sunday said government needs to bail out sinking rice sector, otherwise country may lose export market to neighbouring country.

Pakistan exports over two billion dollars of rice, the second largest exports after textiles, but it is losing export markets since last two years landing over one thousand rice mills into serious problems, he said.

This he said while talking to President Pakistan Rice Mills Association Mukhtar Ahmed Khan Baloch during a meeting. He said that Pakistan is fourth largest exporter of rice and millions of jobs are linked to that critical sector which merits full attention of the policy makers.

At the occasion, Mukhtar Ahmed Khan Baloch said that situation is turning against Pakistan and in favour of India which has introduced its own brand lacking aroma but increased in length. Indian rice is cheaper due to hidden subsidies which has resulting in lost Iranian and Middle Eastern markets, he informed.

He said that some 3000 rice mills are facing problems while those 1000 are on the brink that have failed to sell rice in last two years. He said that mills facing closure are located in Jhang, Chiniot and layya while 3.5 lakh bags are lying in only one district since two years. These mills are unable to pay loans resulting in increased interest.

Baloch said that price of super colonel banaspati was Rs 3600 per bag in 2013-14 while dropped to Rs 1300 in 2014-15 and it is projected to touch Rs 700 per bag soon. Many farmers have refused to sow rice in the next season due to the crisis which has put future of industry and agriculture at stake, he added.

At the occasion, Mian Zahid Hussain lauded the steps taken for rice sector in the budget but termed them insufficient. He said that government agencies should buy rice from millers to export them, their mark-up should be waived and it should be declared sick industry otherwise this important sector would crumble.