The Union of Small and Medium Enterprises (UNISAME) has urged Fawad Chaudhry federal minister for Science and Technology (MoS&T) to direct the Pakistan Standard Quality Control Authority (PSQCA) to expedite the review of the Pakistan Rice Standards and do away with unreal standards causing hardships to the rice sector and affecting exports.
President UNISAME Zulfikar Thaver said the Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) after much efforts of its experts had submitted detailed requests for amendments and sought remedy to make the standards real but unfortunately due to lack of response and perusal the sector has remained deprived. It is believed that the procedure is lengthy and to make any amendment it has to go through several connected agencies like Pakistan Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (PCSIR) and others before it is amended but more than sufficient time has elapsed and time is the essence.
The specifications of different varieties of rice need amendments regarding the standards as the shrivelled rice, admixtures and other percentages mentioned in the manual popularly known as the green book are outdated and rice exporters are unable to maintain them as it increases cost of production and makes the exporters noncompetitive.
Thaver said deputy director, Naseem Us Sami the head of the agricultural department at PSQCA has given him time for 19th January 2021 to hear the grievances of the SME rice exporters and hopefully it will reactivate the files. However much depends on REAP chairman Abdul Qayyum Piracha and his team to get matters going expeditiously with PSQCA.
Muzzamil Rauf Chappal chairman of Cereal Association of Pakistan (CAP) emphasized on Research and Development (R&D) and lamented that we are lacking in this sphere. Every effort must be made to put R&D in high gear as without R&D we will be left lagging behind. R&D is the key to progress.
Haji Muhmmad Saeed chairman SME Farmers Association (SMEFA) also urged the PSQCA to expedite revision and amendments in rice standards to save the SME farmers from losses and victimization. He said the unreal standards are affecting the entire supply chain.
Yasmin Ismail an expert on rice and chief executive officer (CEO) of Rice Labs ( Pvt) Ltd said ideally review of specifications/grading of Irri 6, 9, 386, Super Basmati, 1121, Inclusion of new Basmati variety grades and review of contrasting varieties and replacement of shriveled grains with immature grains is the requirement to make the specifications real.
She said Kala Shah Kaku Institute should also be taken on board to discuss the latest varieties’ development and their grading.
Rafique Suleman, chairman standing committee on Rice at FPCC&I assured full support to the stakeholders for their demand for review of standards.