Govt asked to provide relief to rice growers

KARACHI: Union of Small and Medium Enterprises (UNISAME) has invited the attention of the Ministry of Commerce (MOC) to the adverse situation faced by rice growers, processors, exporters and merchants due to lack of demand, high cost of production and above all no support from the government.

“In India, there are subsidies on farm inputs, and Pakistan is facing tough competition from India. This year India beat us and Pakistan remained behind due to lower Indian prices and open policy of allowing free hand to its exporters,” said President UNISAME Zulfikar Thaver in a statement.

Thaver said the prices of superior varieties of rice fell 50% and other varieties by about 20%, causing huge losses to the growers and affecting processors and exporters as well as foreign buyers.

He lamented that MOC should have planned for seeing the situation. “Our main competitor India allowed it’s shippers to export blended varieties as basmati rice and our MOC hung on to protecting the basmati label by letting Quality Review Committee continue its hindering activity.”

It is pertinent to note that the buyers concept of basmati has changed and rice like 1121 and 386 have caught on. The 1121 is more expensive than basmati. The question is non comprehensive attitude of MOC which failed to act in good time and say good bye to QRC which is protecting a variety senselessly and losing orders, he said.

Thaver said: “The rice exporters know their business and need to be left alone to promote their own brands according to the demands of their buyers who need skillfully blended rice. Unfortunately, SME exporters to Yemen also landed in trouble as the banks in Yemen closed and the bills of the exporters are stuck up and the cargo was off loaded by the vessels in Djibouti.”

Here again instead of coming to the help of the exporters and facilitating them to find remedies, the banks are following the rules as per their manuals which have no provision for such situations and unfortunately lack the ability to think out of box and resolve the problems.

UNISAME has appealed to MOC to recommend to the ministry of finance to give relief to the rice growers, processors, exporters and merchants who have suffered losses and not to burden them with additional taxes and in fact wave taxes for them in the budget, he concluded.

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