Govt asked to pay attention on closure of rice processing units

KARACHI: The Union of Small and Medium Enterprises (UNISAME) has invited the attention of federal commerce minister Khurram Dastagir to the closure of rice processing units and urged him to save the traditional export oriented industry from collapse by doing some out of box thinking and implementing the decision before the planting season of all varieties of rice.

President UNISAME Zulfikar Thaver said rice exports business is only in the hands of a few big rice exporters and the SME unit owners have been eliminated. More than 1000 units have closed down due to lack of business. The lethargy of the government is damaging the age old industry which is next to textiles and employs a large number of people.

He said in Sindh the parboiling units have proved to be dead investment and the par boilers of paddy are now sitting hand on hand.

Although Thaver identified the crisis to a worldwide low cycle of commodities and said our main competitor India excels in parboil rice and offers it at lower than our price but in white rice Pakistan is competing India due to lower prices and better quality. However we cannot afford to close our parboil units and need to revive the parboil rice industry especially in Sindh.

He said despite the fact that Pakistani rice is more tasty and inherits superiority we are unable to take benefit due to no support from government for farm inputs.

The SME rice exporters have urged the government to examine the setback and study each and every aspect from irrigation methods, fertilizers, seeds, supply chain, cost of cultivation, pesticides and storage and last but not the least logistics.

The SME rice exporters demanded level playing field and lamented that the Quality Review Committee (QRC) is not closed yet despite the fact that its futility is confirmed it is a bothersome pre- shipment inspection cell and a mockery of international pre shipment inspection and it is surprising as to why the Pakistan Standard Quality Control Authority (PSQCA) is tolerating it and why the MINCOM realizing its demerits is giving it extension. MINCOM even directed the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) to begin the process of closing it but the SMEs fail to understand why it has not been closed and what is the reason for the slackness and who is interested in its continuity.

This defective preshipment inspection cell( QRC) not equipped nor qualified nor eligible was basically formed to protect the basmati rice purity but now the rice business is mostly of 386, 1121 and its blending with basmati and the purity is not expected nor practiced. In fact blending is now treated as a skill and 1121 is more expensive than basmati.

UNISAME expects the MINCOM to address the issues of the rice industry and urged it to seek help from the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Authority (SMEDA) to revive the industry on modern lines with paddy drying systems, storage systems and to make value addition by making rice milk and other high value products from rice both for exports and the domestic market.

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